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McHenry Township Fire adds third battalion chief

McHENRY – A 17-year veteran of the McHenry Township Fire Protection District was picked as its newest battalion chief.


The addition of a third full-time battalion chief to cover the third shift will create "consistency and efficiencies," Fire Chief Tony Huemann said.


The third battalion slot was filled using officers, but the promotion of Lt. David Harwood to the position will take a load off them and give the post consistency.


The district has slowly phased in full-time battalion chiefs, adding the first one in August 2011 and the second later that year. They are two of the few full-time positions at the district. Firefighters, lieutenants and captains are part time.


Even while the district has grown and other area departments went full time, its board of trustees decided to keep it part time to save money.


Harwood joined the McHenry Township Fire Protection District 17 years ago as a part-time firefighter. He moved up to lieutenant in 2011.


He also worked as a part-time firefighter in Marengo, as a dispatcher at the Regional Emergency Dispatch Center and as a police officer.


"He's a very intelligent man, and he's been around the fire service a long time," Huemann said. "He's very calm. ... He's capable of thinking on a larger scale with multiple things happening at once."


The district is also in the process of hiring as many as 20 new part-time firefighters, Huemann said. It typically has about 160 firefighters on staff at a time, but the number fell recently to about 140 because of retirements and other attrition.


The McHenry Township Fire Protection District has four stations and covers seven communities over 56 square miles.

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