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Des Plaines' top cop to lead fire department during search for new chief

  • Des Plaines Police Chief William Kushner will become the director of public safety upon the retirement of Fire Chief Alan Wax in October. Kushner will temporarily oversee operations of the fire and police department during the search for a full-time fire chief.

    Des Plaines Police Chief William Kushner will become the director of public safety upon the retirement of Fire Chief Alan Wax in October. Kushner will temporarily oversee operations of the fire and police department during the search for a full-time fire chief.

 
By Samantha Jacobson
sjacobson@dailyherald.com
updated: 8/6/2019 12:10 PM

Des Plaines Police Chief William Kushner will take the position of director of public safety when Fire Chief Alan Wax retires on Oct. 18.

Kushner will oversee operations of both the police and fire departments during the search for a new fire chief, officials say.

City Manager Mike Bartholomew said Kushner has been shadowing Wax in preparation for his new role. The transition has been smooth because Kushner and Wax work well together, he added.

"They have a great relationship. They've worked together for the past 6-7 years," Bartholomew said.

Kushner said he has a stack of firefighter books on his desk that he is reading in preparation for the post.

Kushner's salary will increase 5% while he serves as director of public safety, then return to its current level of about $160,000 once a full-time fire chief is in place.

Bartholomew estimates the process to hire a new fire chief will take 6-8 months. In the meantime, he plans to contract recruiters to create and distribute ads to attract candidates.

Despite acknowledging that having a permanent public safety director overseeing both departments would save money, Bartholomew said it's better to have separate chiefs leading each agency.

"I need someone with a great deal with experience in the fire service, multiple years at a high level in the fire department," he said. "They're going to need to be able to work well with all the firefighters."