Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

Andrew Larson, a 23-year veteran of the Arlington Heights Fire Department, has been named its new chief. Larson, 46, who had been acting chief since the retirement of Ken Koeppen in November, took on the job formally Feb. 19 at a salary of $153,423. He will manage a $23 million budget, four fire houses and 108 employees.

A resident of Sycamore, Larson said his dedication to public service was instilled in him at a young age.

“I was raised in a family of public servants. It wasn’t really a discussion,” said Larson, who grew up in DeKalb County with grandmothers who were nurses, aunts and uncles who were school teachers, and a brother who was a lieutenant with the DeKalb Fire Department. “Right out of high school, I joined the Sandwich Volunteer Fire Department and fed my passion for this.”

Larson went on to earn an associate’s degree in fire science and was a paid on-call firefighter for the City of St. Charles until he was hired by Wheeling as a firefighter in 1996. He left a year later to join the Arlington Heights Fire Department where he was a firefighter and paramedic for 10 years before becoming a lieutenant, spending five years in public education. He became a battalion chief, then was promoted to deputy chief two years ago.

He has a bachelor’s degree in fire science management from Southern Illinois University and a master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis in strategic public management and leadership from Northern Illinois University.

Last year was the busiest year ever for the department with 10,329 calls for service. Of those, 7,512 were EMS related and the remaining 2,817 were for fire service.

He mentioned how some departments are providing medical care to residents in their homes. Although only just beginning in Arlington Heights, the idea is to prevent repeat transportation to hospitals. Training is being readied, and the department is working with the hospital to identify the types of patients and post-surgical care procedures they will be following. That and communicating what’s happening with patients to doctors will be a multi-year process.

The department also is training firefighters to assist each other following difficult calls, such as the death of a child.