Posts Tagged Woodstock fire chief announces retirement

Woodstock Fire Rescue District news

Excerpts from

The Woodstock Fire/Rescue District has hired Capt. Michael Hill, a 20-year WFRD veteran, to take over for Chief Ralph Webster when Webster retires Oct. 1. 

A lifelong resident of Woodstock and a graduate of Marian Central Catholic High School, Hill became a commissioned firefighter in 2003 as part of the first group of firefighters to be hired by WFRD as full-time employees. In 1993, he started as a part-time employee for the fire district before taking a hiatus to earn a master’s degree in computer science.  He attended the National Fire Academy and is completing the Executive Fire Officer Program, the highest certification offered to fire officers.

Hill said he would like WFRD to become more proactive toward fire prevention when he becomes chief. 

Internally, Hill said he will focus on fiscal responsibility and improving efficiency. The district is facing a loss of revenue expected to exceed $800,000, fueled mostly by the loss of a $750,000 contract to serve the Village of Lakewood. WFRD’s deputy chief position was eliminated in May.

Webster is leaving his post two years before the end of his contract, a move WFRD officials have said is a cost-saving measure. Webster said he will stay on with the district for five to seven months to help with the transition.

Hill will earn an annual salary of $125,000. His swearing-in ceremony will be at 7:45 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, at the WFRD Raffel Road fire station, 2900 Raffel Road.

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Woodstock Fire Rescue District chief to retire

Excerpts from the

Woodstock Fire/Rescue District Chief Ralph Webster has announced he will retire in October 31. 

“It is my intent to step down before the end of my contract,” Webster said. “This is all amicable. (The board) knows it’s time for a change. I feel like it’s time for some new leadership. Because of all the changes with the Lakewood contract, this seemed like a good time for me to go.”

Webster, 53, said it seemed fitting for him to retire in October, which marks his 25th anniversary with the district. He has presented a leadership transition plan to the WFRD Board of Commissioners, which has yet to be approved. 

He has agreed to stay on with the district, likely in a part-time capacity, for approximately six months, to help the new chief. He estimates the hiring process to tap a new chief will take approximately four months. 

Webster was named chief of the Woodstock Fire Rescue Squad in October 1991. In November 1993, the Woodstock Fire Rescue Squad consolidated with the Woodstock City Fire Department and Woodstock Rural Fire Protection District, forming the WFRD.  At that time, Webster was named chief administrator of the district. Eventually, the administrator portion of his job title was dropped and he became known simply as chief. 

The WFRD has been undergoing staffing and restructuring changes since losing its contract to provide emergency services for the village of Lakewood in November. Lakewood opted to contract with the Crystal Lake Fire Department instead, forcing the WFRD to cut back on the department’s work hours and staffing, particularly those who worked at the Haligus Road station in Lakewood. 

thanks Dan

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