Trustees Expected to Announce New Orland Fire Chief in May
The Orland Fire Protection District also discussed cutting services, such as dropping one ambulance or possibly closing Station 6, during Tuesday night's meeting.
The search for a new Orland Fire Protection District chief could conclude in May, after trustees narrow remaining candidates to five and schedule a final interview within the next two weeks, according to Board President Jim Hickey.
That pool of resumes, as many as 40 deep, included firefighters from in and out of the state, as well as men from Orland Park whom work for other districts, Hickey said following the district’s monthly board meeting on Tuesday.
However, the only resume to come in-house was Acting Fire Chief Raymond Kay, whose performance the board president described as “phenomenal.”
Former Chief Bryant Krizik parted ways with the district last year after he was the subject of an internal investigation.
The one firefighter who garners at least three of the five trustees’ favor in May, after interviews, will get the job.
“I’m pretty confident we’ll have a good guy, you know, and not to say that it’s not Chief Kay,” Hickey said.
One candidate, he added, dropped out of the race when he discovered that he had applied to Orland—not Orlando.
Board President Looking to Citizens for Guidance on Cuts or Taxes
In other fire district news, the day could come when residents of the Orland Fire Protection District, like their neighbors in Palos, will be asked to choose between cutting services or raising taxes.
Hickey said trustees were reluctantly looking ahead at the possibility of dropping either a truck or an ambulance from service, or eliminating the Fire Prevention Department altogether to manage future expenses and avoid an undesirable referendum down the road.
“This year we cut millions of dollars out of the budget and we barely made it,” he said, adding that he wanted to hear suggestions from the residents.
Other options floated have been the closing of Station Six and outsourcing ambulance service, which Hickey adamantly said he opposed on account of "horror stories" from other towns. He would prefer that the village absorb the district’s Fire Prevention Department, which, he said, is supported by the district but whose ticket revenue benefits the village.
During the meeting, Joseph Gleiter of Orland Park told the board that talk of possible changes to ambulance service concern him and other seniors. It was a concern that went unanswered, but one of a few Hickey addressed with reporters after the meeting.
When asked why a referendum might be necessary if the district chose not to make cuts, Hickey fingered annual employee raises.
“Let's just say this year we have $400,000 left over," he said. "Well, if salaries go up by $600,000 that tells you, unless we cut something next year, we're going to be out of money.”
Orland Firefighters Union Local 2743 President Walter Rafacz was not immediately available for comment late Tuesday night.
Negotiations for a new firefighters’ contract were expected to begin as early as January but still haven't begun. Cuts could affect staffing levels and would likely play a role in those discussions.
On the same night, trustees passed an ordinance abating money back to taxpayers, though an exact number was not readily available from either Hickey or his public information specialist, Ray Hanania.
Trustees Chris Evoy and Martin McGill did not attend the meeting.