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Marengo fire chief to retire at the end of September

Chief Bob Bradbury talks about the troubles he and other firefighter/paramedics deal with at the Marengo Fire Department on Jan. 23 in Marengo.
Chief Bob Bradbury talks about the troubles he and other firefighter/paramedics deal with at the Marengo Fire Department on Jan. 23 in Marengo.

Marengo Fire Protection District Chief Bob Bradbury will be retiring at the end of September after 36 years of service to the city.

Bradbury said he made the decision a few months ago and hopes to do some traveling with his wife in his retirement.

“I see the growth heading this way and the department growing along with it,” Bradbury said.

Bradbury will be replaced by Marengo Deputy Fire Chief John Kimmel, who was appointed as chief of the city’s fire protection district Aug. 19 and as chief of the city’s rescue district Aug. 28.

“[Kimmel] is going to do a fantastic job and is going to carry on and keep this department going in a good direction,” Bradbury said.

In addition to his service in Marengo, Bradbury also spent 22 years in a full-time capacity as a firefighter, medic, fire prevention officer and fire marshal in the city of Elgin.

One thing that leaves Bradbury optimistic about the district’s future is that the all-part-time crew of the fire and rescue districts will start to receive benefits thanks to the passage of two referendums earlier this year.

“We have such great community support that it passed substantially,” Bradbury said.

Another referendum also was passed in 2007, which was require to be able to man a fire engine throughout the day.

Kimmel had said Marengo firefighters and paramedics make about $46,000 a year without benefits.

Following the passage of the referendums, a Marengo homeowner with a home valued at $100,000 would see a property tax increase of about $45 a year to provide benefits to fire and rescue crews.

For a Union resident, the increase would be about $19 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

Benefits will allow the district to retain staff and personnel longer and will lower training costs – which can be as high as $10,000 for paramedics – by attracting well-trained firefighters, Bradbury said.

Bradbury had also said the employee wages typically account for around 65% of a fire district’s budget but Marengo’s wages account for around 95% of its budget.

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