Posts Tagged new fire chief in Waukgean

New fire chief in Waukegan (more)

Excerpts from the

Near the start of this week’s Waukegan City Council meeting, Lake County Circuit Court Judge George Bridges Sr. stepped forward to administer the oath to the city’s incoming fire chief — his son, George Bridges Jr.

“It would be my honor to swear him in, with your permission,” Bridges said to Mayor Wayne Motley at the Oct. 5 session, which drew a capacity crowd of supporters and colleagues to see the younger Bridges succeed Ricco Farrell, who retired the same day.

Motley said last week that he selected Bridges to head the department in consultation with Farrell, who offered a list of candidates after announcing last month that he would retire to care for his parents.

“Let me tell you very clearly, so there’s no misunderstanding or misconception. I chose to present Mr. Bridges to be appointed to the position of fire chief for three reasons — only three, no more,” Motley said. “The first reason is his competency. He’s an extremely competent man. Second of all, he’s a very courageous man. And third of all, he’s committed to the city of Waukegan.

“So, when you go back and you hear discussions about why I chose to appoint George Bridges, those are the three reasons and the only three reasons.”

Asked to elaborate following the council meeting, Motley said he had heard comments about cronyism and race related to his selection.

“I didn’t choose him because he’s black, and I didn’t choose him because he’s George Bridges’ son,” said Motley, who worked with the senior Bridges in the Waukegan Police Department. “There were a number of very good candidates, (but) I chose him because he knows this community better than anyone else.”

Aldermen Cunningham and Moisio lauded the concept of hiring a department head from within the ranks.

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New fire chief in Waukegan

Excerpts from the

Waukegan FD Battalion Chief Georges Bridges, Jr.

Waukegan FD Battalion Chief Georges Bridges, Jr. Larry Shapiro photo

Affirming a policy to select department heads by promoting from within existing city rosters, Mayor Wayne Motley said Wednesday that he will nominate Battalion Chief George Bridges Jr. to succeed Ricco Farrell as chief of the Waukegan Fire Department.

The 54-year-old Chief Farrell announced last week that he plans to retire Oct. 5.

Motley said Wednesday that he met with Farrell afterward to discuss who could best continue the policies and procedures he set in place, and Bridges ended up being the top choice.

Motley said he wanted a chief that would keep the fire department moving forward. “I want continued training — I want that to be first and foremost, because training is a life-safety issue to me.”

Bridges, 44, has been with the department since 1996 and was promoted to lieutenant in 2007. He has served as battalion chief since 2013 when Motley named Farrell chief.

“George has thoroughly prepared himself to take over at a time such as this,” Farrell said. “He’s educated himself for this, and he has a heart and passion for the fire service. He’s going to do the department and people of the city of Waukegan justice.”

“My vision is very simple — firemen and paramedics, they come with a purpose,” Bridges said. “When you come on the fire department, you know your purpose. You’re going to fight fires and you’re going to respond to emergency medical calls. But we need direction, and Chief Farrell came in, and he gave us that direction to go with that purpose. He laid that foundation of educating and training the firefighters. Professional development was something that he definitely wanted, (and) that’s what I’m going to do.”

Motley’s nomination must be confirmed by the City Council, and Bridges’ name will go before aldermen at the start of its Oct. 5 meeting.

Farrell, who became the city’s first African-American fire chief upon his own promotion from battalion chief to the top post two years ago, said he doesn’t feel anyone should read into the fact that his successor is also African-American. “It’s not a black or white thing, it’s a right thing,” Farrell said. “I see George as being an individual who can take this baton and propel this department in the right direction for the next decade, putting Waukegan on the map and keeping firefighters safe.”

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