ALGONQUIN – The Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire District is looking for a new chief.
The resignation of Fire Chief Kevin Rynders, 56, of West Dundee, was accepted Wednesday. His last day on the job was Jan. 13.
Rynders said there was an agreement between him and the board that he resign before his contract expired April 30. He said he believes “the board has ideas of heading in a different direction. I obviously was not part of the direction they desired to have.”
District board President Virgil Corless said the district needs to prepare for legislation that calls for making it easier to merge fire districts. “We need a chief that will embrace that in a manner that will make that possible,” he said.
Corless said the district needs to concentrate on managing its costs, especially with increased scrutiny of pension costs, among other things.
“We have to run a fire service more like a business than any day before,” Corless said. “Chief Rynders was exceptional in the operational aspect of the business. ... He’s been a valued public servant. Just because we’re going in a different direction doesn’t mean he’s a bad person.”
Rynders, who last year earned $121,800, said his severance package allows him to stay on the district’s health insurance plan, with the district picking up 88 percent of the premium through the end of the year.
Beginning next year, he will have to pay the full premium – about $12,000.
He was paid for four weeks of vacation time and is no longer being paid, he said.
Rynders, who has been in the fire service for 37 years, joined the department in 2008 as assistant chief. He became chief in 2009.
As the district looks for a new chief, retired Matteson Fire Chief Patrick Gericke is filling in on a three-month contract that was formally approved Wednesday. The Oak Forest resident also has served as an interim chief for Lombard.
A copy of Gericke’s contract was not available at Wednesday’s meeting.
The Northwest Herald has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the fire district, which has five days to respond.
Corless said the fire district is contacting search firms to help with its search for a new chief.
He said he hopes to have a new chief selected by March, and hopes to find someone with strong interpersonal skills, leadership skills and a background in finances.
Rynders said he is proud of his work with the fire district, which includes operational improvements and increasing staffing.
During Rynders’ stint, he helped develop or expand intergovernmental agreements with other area fire departments and the village of Algonquin.
The district updated its fleet in a responsible financial manner, Rynders said. “We didn’t overspend; we didn’t break the bank.”
The village of Algonquin maintains fire district vehicles.