Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

Less than two months after outsourcing its fire department to Kurtz Paramedic Service, Calumet Park Fire Chief Howard Fisher, who had served as chief since 2014, was let go earlier this month in what the mayor said was primarily a cost-cutting move. He’s hoping to find a replacement for Fisher — who made $82,126 last year — within the next few weeks. The mayor said he doesn’t expect the transition from a full-time chief to a part-timer working about 30 hours a week will have any impact on the department’s operations.

“I wanted a part-time (chief),” he said. “Since Kurtz was going to have their own staff and everything, I didn’t see the need to be paying $80,000-$90,000 for a full-time fire chief when I was gonna also have to be paying for an administrative person that was going to be there administering all the paperwork of that.”

Nicless Malley, a former village firefighter who now works for Kurtz, will serve as Calumet Park’s acting chief until a permanent replacement is found. Once the new fire chief is appointed, he or she and an existing fire office clerk will be the department’s only public employees, at a combined cost of between $80,000 and $90,000 without benefits. Kurtz employs the department’s 12 full-time firefighters, four of whom previously worked part-time for Calumet Park.

The details of Fisher’s separation agreement are still being worked out, but the mayor said he anticipates paying the former chief until Jan. 15, and compensating him for his approximately 40 accumulated sick days and two weeks of vacation. 

Kurtz assumed control of Calumet Park’s fire department on Dec. 1, a few weeks after the village board approved a separation agreement with its firefighters union and signed a five-year contract with the private company to provide fire suppression and ambulance services.

Calumet Park will pay Kurtz a maximum of $829,380 in the first year of the contract, with progressive increases each year up to a maximum of $947,392 in the final year of the deal. The price tag does not include the salary of the fire chief and fire office clerk, and costs for building and apparatus maintenance and utilities, but is still expected to produce a significant savings for cash-strapped Calumet Park, officials have said.

The mayor said that he’d had discussions with officials from multiple south suburban towns about parlaying his deal with Kurtz into shared services agreements for fire suppression and ambulance services in their communities. He’s still evaluating whether such a shared services agreement with another municipality would make financial sense for Calumet Park, but that he expects to make a decision one way or another later this year.

“(Some towns) want me to completely take over their fire department,” he said. “If I wanted to do it today, I could sign them up today.”