The Officers and Firefighters of Hanover Park Fire Department continually strive to embody the mission and values of our organization. Quality compassionate service provided at times of great need to our residents and visitors is a mainstay of our department.
Warren Bennis, founding Chairman of the Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California writes “Growing other leaders from the ranks isn’t just the duty of the leader, it’s an obligation.”
About six years ago I started thinking about and focusing a significant amount of attention on the development of our future leaders. The culture of Hanover Park Fire Department is very unique and one in which departments nationwide try to emulate. To that end, my concern was and is, how to develop our future leaders in order to maintain organizational stability, while pushing them to focus on the necessary changes that will be required to address the dynamic needs of our residents and businesses.
In May of 2012 all of our employee development work was tested. I was asked by the Village Board to serve as the Interim Village Manager while the Board conducted a nationwide search for a new manager. This new assignment took me out of the fire station and provided very little time to focus on managing the day-to-day operation of the department. Assistant Chief Zaccard without hesitation shouldered my departmental responsibilities and kept the department operating as if nothing was out of the ordinary. The other Chief Officers, Company Officers, and Coordinators without being told also stepped forward taking on new responsibilities to ensure continued quality service.
When I returned to the Department I found a different organization than the one in which I left. The team had learned new skills, taken on new challenges and had grown in their abilities and confidence. Projects and tasks that I used to handle were now handled by other officers. The decision I had to make upon my return was whether or not to take back these responsibilities, or redefine the role of Fire Chief. I have chosen the latter… It would be inexcusable in my opinion to ask these tremendous employees to not continue using their new skills to lead the organization into the future. I believe we as a department have a unique and special opportunity. An opportunity for me to focus more on vision casting while allowing the staff to direct overall operations. The lesson I learned…when you have great people you should never be surprised by what they can do.
In June of 2011 the department assumed responsibility for all inspectional services previously managed by the Community Development Department. Since this transition the Department created the Inspectional Services Division and has worked diligently to determine weaknesses and to make enhancements to improve performance. To that end, a comprehensive analysis of the division was conducted by McGrath and Associates. One of many recommendations was to create a supervisory position at the rank of battalion chief. After an extensive search conducted by the Village’s Human Resource Department, Battalion Chief Anne Marie Hess was hired and assigned as Chief of Inspectional Services. Chief Hess is a licensed Architect with many years of experience in local government as well as with private architectural firms. Chief Hess arrived in late July and we are pleased to have her as part of our team.
With Chief Hess on board, the newly created division vacated the space they were occupying in Community Development and moved into the east wing of Village Hall, in the space previously used by the Police Department. This area is scheduled for remodel in 2013 and will unquestionably provide a quality long term home for this new division.
Assisted by the Human Resource Department a three year collective bargaining agreement was reached with the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 3452. The excellent labor management relations we have with the local made negotiations very smooth and I deeply appreciate the leadership of Local President Brian Chmielak. An example of this well respected and hard earned relationship is the milestone reached in July where neither that IAFF Local 3452 or SEIU Local 73 have filed a single labor grievance against the Village in 10 years. This frankly is one of my proudest accomplishments.
On a personal note, I am overwhelmed by being named the 2012 Illinois Career Fire Chief of the Year and to finish as a finalist for the International Association of Fire Chiefs Career Chief of the Year. More special than receiving the award was reading the nomination letters submitted on my behalf - I am humbled beyond words.
I am incredibly blessed to lead a wonderful staff dedicated to serve; I could not be more proud of my team and the work they do. I want to thank Village President Rod Craig, the Village Board, Village Manager Ron Moser (ret.) and our new boss, Village Manager Juliana Maller. I also want to thank Assistant Chief Kenneth D. Zaccard. Chief Zaccard is hands down one of the most talented fire officers I have had the privilege to work with. Also my thanks go out to Battalion Chiefs Pikora, Fors, Doubek and Hess as well as Chaplain Dominowski, the Company Officers, Firefighters, Inspectional Service Staff and Fire Corps members of the Hanover Park Fire Department, including my administrative assistant Robin Dubiel for their dedication and commitment to promoting the mission and values of our great organization.