Flossmoor Fire Chief Chris Sewell has retired following 10 years as head of the village’s fire department.
Sewell announced his decision in December. His last day at the department was Jan. 16.
The village will appoint an interim chief while the search for a full-time replacement for Sewell is conducted. An appointment is expected at the Feb. 3 village board meeting.
Sewell first joined the Flossmoor Fire Department in 1994 as a training administrator, serving eight years under Greg Berk, the fire chief at the time. Sewell then went on to serve as Sauk Village fire chief before returning to Flossmoor Fire Department as chief in 2009.
Sewell said he was able to learn valuable skills and experiences early in his career serving under Berk as well as Chief Dan Hornback. Those experiences provided him with the confidence to take on the role of chief and encouraged him to return to Flossmoor, he said.
“I had a couple of really great mentors when I was a training officer so when I became fire chief at Sauk Village, I was able to hit the ground running,” Sewell said. “But Flossmoor always felt like home. It is a town that has always planned very well and provided so much support for our service departments. It’s a great place to work."
Mayor Paul Braun thanked Sewell for his service.
“We are so grateful for the dedication Chief Sewell has given to serving the Flossmoor community,” Braun said. “This community is lucky to have had so many years of his incredible service. We are sad to see him go, but wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”
Appointing an interim fire chief from outside the organization will add resources and assistance over the next several months as the department not only manages the day-to-day operations but also oversees significant special projects, said Village Manager Bridget Wachtel.
Specifically, the Flossmoor Fire Department is in receipt of two large FEMA grants, one of which includes serving as the lead agency for a grant that includes nine communities.
Over the past year, the department has also been overseeing the construction of an aerial fire truck that will service the community for 20 years.
“The village runs with a lean management team and the fire department is no different,” Braun said. “Filling the position of fire chief short-term will keep the department status quo in terms of management and provide the village the time needed to conduct a proper recruitment.”
In Flossmoor, the mayor appoints the fire chief with consent of the village board.
“The Flossmoor Fire Department has been smartly managed for several years, having enjoyed a homegrown volunteer membership which has evolved into a thriving department of paid-on-call and part-time employees,” Wachtel said.
In more recent history, that staffing has been augmented by contract personnel and most recently, full-time shift captains have joined the ranks.
“Knowing that the structure of the department will continue to evolve in response to call volume, employment trends and industry standards, the village will need to be strategic long term in identifying a chief who can continue to build upon our successes and ensure that the village is positioned to continue to provide full service top-quality fire protection and paramedic services to our residents,” she said.
Wachtel said the village board thanks the fire department’s management team and department members “for their hard work and professionalism as they are dedicated daily to serve and protect our residents during a transitional time for leadership.”