Excerpts from the ChicagoSunTimes.com:

Closing in on the mandatory retirement age of 63, Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago is still awaiting word on whether he will be forced out or allowed to stay on as a civilian commissioner. Preoccupied with more pressing concerns, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has delayed the decision for so long, Santiago will turn 63 before the city council reconvenes in September, when a vote could be taken on an ordinance permitting him to stay on. That means that, unless Emanuel makes a change, an executive order would be needed to temporarily allow it.

There is precedent for civilians at the helm of Chicago’s public safety departments. Former Mayor Jane Byrne had a civilian fire commissioner in William Blair. The Chicago Police Department has had two civilian superintendents.

Santiago was chosen in February, 2012 to replace Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff, one of the most decorated firefighters in the city’s history. Hoff abruptly announced his retirement after declaring that he was deathly against closing fire houses or reducing the minimum staffing requirement on fire apparatus — the issue that triggered the bitter 1980 firefighters strike.

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