Posts Tagged Springfield fire chief to retire

Springfield Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from

Brandon Blough has been appointed as the new Springfield fire chief. Three candidates from within the department were interviewed for the position

Blough was a member of the senior command staff, serving as deputy division chief of operations. He was promoted to the position in 2018. Prior to that he was a captain, driver engineer, and firefighter. He was also a member of the dive team. He currently sits on the board of directors of the Illinois Public Pension Fund Association, a group that represents the more than 600 police and fire pension funds in Illinois. He served on the Springfield Firefighters’ Pension Board from 2009 to 2018, first as a trustee and later president. Prior to joining the SFD, Blough was a legal sergeant with the Illinois Army National Guard from 1989 to 1995.

The city’s fire pension systems is currently about 42% funded. Nearly $270 million in additional funds will be needed above what the city is expected to collect in property tax revenue in order to meet the state law requiring that local pension systems be 90 percent funded by 2040, according to a city presentation from 2019. The city’s annual contribution to its fire and police pension systems has exceeded the property tax levy for the past several years.

Blough will be tasked with maintaining the department’s Class 1 rating, which it regained in 2018 after being downgraded in 2003. The ratings system looks at a city’s fire suppression capabilities by grading the fire department, the emergency communications system, the city’s water supply and efforts toward community risk reduction.

His annual salary as chief will be $137,000.

Blough’s father, William “Billy” Blough, was on the fire department from 1972 to 1999. He retired as a driver-engineer.

Fire Marshal Ed Canny, a 23-year department veteran who is also the chief of the department’s fire safety division, will continue to be the point person for the COVID-19 response. 

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Springfield Fire Department news

Excerpts from

With Fire Chief Allen Reyne’s surprise announcement that he will retire on Dec. 1, attention now turns to who will replace him. The pool of prospective candidates already has been whittled down — foremost by a clause in the city’s contract with the firefighters’ union requiring that the mayor choose the chief from the current ranks. Furthermore, the chief and other top-level fire department appointees must meet minimum requirements per city code that include having at least 10 years of service with the department and having passed the battalion chief’s examination. With the exception of six years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the hire-from-within clause has been in the Springfield union’s contract since it began to collectively bargain with the city.

This brings the list of potential candidates down to 25, including three division chiefs, two deputy division chiefs, nine battalion chiefs and 11 captains who are on the battalion chief’s list. 

Bassett, a 24-year veteran of the force, is a certified fire investigator who previously served as deputy division chief of fire safety and deputy division chief of operations.

Moore, a 20-year SFD veteran, would be the first female chief in the department’s history. About 95% of Springfield firefighters are men. She already broke a glass ceiling in 2018 when she became the first woman to ever be a fire division chief in the city’s history.

Blough, a 21-year veteran of the department, served as a captain before being promoted to his current position in 2018.

There are three other 2018 candidates still in the department: Jason McMillan, a captain; Jim Price, a senior arson investigator; and Donnie Richardson, a battalion chief.

Another possible candidate is Fire Marshal Ed Canny, a 23-year department veteran who is also the chief of the department’s fire safety division and oversees several programs, including code enforcement, investigations, fireworks safety and public education. He’s been in his current role since May 2019.

Deputy division chief of operations Mike Abbott, a 20-year veteran of the force, could also be in the mix.

All Springfield fire chiefs in recent memory have come from within the department’s ranks.

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Springfield Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the State-Journal

Capt. Allen Reyne, a nearly 19-year veteran of the Springfield Fire Department, will be the city’s next fire chief. Reyne, 47, a captain since 2009, will replace Barry Helmerichs, who is retiring April 6.  Starting April 7, Reyne will be acting fire chief until the Springfield City Council can vote on his appointment April 17. His salary has not yet been decided.

Eight candidates within the fire department were interviewed for the position. Reyne, a Springfield resident, was the firefighters’ union president for two years starting in 2012 and has served as its secretary.

Reyne is certified to be a fire investigator at the state and international level, as well as a paramedic. He also holds certifications in hazardous waste operations, fire service management and fire service instruction. Before joining the Springfield Fire Department in 1999, he was a volunteer firefighter for the Godfrey Fire Protection District and a paramedic in St. Louis County and Springfield.

At Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, the mayor honored Helmerichs with a proclamation and named that day Fire Chief Barry Helmerichs Day. He listed some of Helmerichs’ accomplishments, including raising the department’s Insurance Services Office rating from Class 3 to Class 1. Helmerichs also emphasized advanced medical training for firefighters and improved response times.

thanks Dan

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Springfield Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the state

With Springfield Fire Chief Barry Helmerichs retiring at the end of the month, the mayor is interviewing Springfield Fire Department members to find a replacement, because of a clause in the firefighters’ contract that stipulates the hire must be internal. The provision is unique to Springfield, though the practice of promoting an internal candidate for chief is not.

“All other persons assigned or appointed to positions in the Departmental structure as outlined in this Section of the Collective Bargaining Agreement shall be from within the classified fire service of the City of Springfield, Illinois,” states the contract, referring to the positions of fire chief, division chiefs and deputy division chiefs.

With the exception of six years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the hire-from-within clause has been in the Springfield union’s contract since it began to collectively bargain with the city.

In 1997, then-Mayor Karen Hasara pushed for the requirement to be dropped from the union’s contract. She had recently recruited a police chief from outside of Illinois. Plus, the fire department was split among political factions, and the union had delivered a no-confidence vote against then-Fire Chief Russ Steil. He retired shortly after, and Hasara wanted to conduct a national search to find a replacement that would restore order.

“The community felt strongly about being able to go out and get the very best person,” Hasara said in September 1997. “It very well may be that that person comes from within the Springfield Fire Department, but to limit ourselves to that would be a mistake.”

The union was initially resistant to the change in their contract. Seventeen months after their contract expired, a new one was ushered in, without the clause but with concessions the union backed. The new chief would be chosen with the help of a selection panel, which had representation from the union. The committee reduced a pool of 54 applicants to five finalists, three of which were local.

In the end, Hasara selected James “J.D.” Knox, a 28-year veteran of the Springfield Fire Department and acting fire chief at the time he was chosen. She didn’t look outside the department again, though she hired chiefs after Knox.

The chief selection clause was resurrected in 2003, according to Tom Roate, the secretary-treasurer of the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois. Roate was the president of the Springfield firefighters’ union in 2003.

He said Hasara told him she wanted to appoint the acting fire chief Ron Hasara, her ex-husband’s cousin, as the permanent chief without going through the selection committee process or looking at other candidates. Roate said he pushed for the clause, partly because of its historic factor. Springfield had never hired a chief outside of its ranks since a memorandum of agreement between striking firefighters and the city was reached in 1976.

By choosing a chief from the department, everyone wins. The most significant factor, though, Roate said is the incoming chief will have familiarity with the department and Springfield politics and, therefore, can hit the ground running.

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Springfield Fire Department news (more)

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The Springfield Fire Department is restructuring its leadership after five chiefs announced their retirement. The city said these retirements happened to keep young cadets from being laid off.

The proposed budget anticipated retirements so that they could employ new firefighters, but if the retirements didn’t happen, the cadets would most likely not be able to take an official place in the workforce. Now the restructuring includes finding a new chief, which the mayor will appoint, and be moving the positions upward, including the trainees into full-time firefighters.  There are nine cadets going through training.

Springfield’s Fire Chief Barry Helmerichs is retiring on April 6. He’s leaving along with four other chiefs. Chief Robert Marfell, Battalion Chief Raymond Gillespie, Battalion Chief Bill Carmean, and Chief Mark Hart. The retirements open over $500,000 in the department’s budget. It’s important to note, the chief said they aren’t leaving because of the budget. They say it was just their time to retire.

The city said, when it comes to the budget, they aren’t in the clear. There’s still a $2.5 million shortfall.

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Springfield Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

Springfield Fire Chief Barry Helmerichs will retire at the end of the month after almost three years as chief.  Of the five division chiefs, Bob Marfell, division chief of training, retired Monday and Mark Hart, division chief of operations, will retire March 16. Along with the division chiefs, Battalion Chief Edward Gillespie retired last week, and Battalion Chief Bill Carmean will retire Friday. The three other division chiefs, Chris Richmond, Jeph Bassett and Lyndal Neighbours will not retire this year.

When Helmerichs was appointed chief in 2015, he said he would regain the city’s Class 1 rating. At the time, the city had a Class 3 ISO rating. In 2017, Springfield achieved a Class 2 rating, and in January, it a Class 1 rating, without a significant change in funds.

He is equally proud of the push for advanced medical training for firefighters. Last year, the department increased the number of people who recovered from heart attacks by 600 percent. Additionally, the department’s turnout time has dropped by 16 percent over the last two years.

Helmerichs was born and raised in Springfield, and has been with the fire department for 26 years.

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