Councilman Dunne leaves firefighting for FEMA
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org August 31, 2012 10:32PM
GUS STUERTZE | For The Courier News Richard Dunne speaks at a candidate's forum Monday at the American Legion in Elgin. 03/02/09
Updated: October 4, 2012 6:08AM
ELGIN — ELGIN City Council member Richard Dunne has resigned his lieutenant’s position with the Elgin Fire Department to take a job with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“At the present time, I still intend to run for council in the spring,” Dunne said.
Dunne’s last day with the fire department was Sunday. He is to report to the FEMA office in downtown Chicago on Sept. 10.
Dunne began his firefighting career in a paid-on-call position with Forest Park Fire Department in 1985 and was hired full-time in Elgin in 1987.
With the EFD, Dunne trained to become a paramedic and worked his way up to the rank of lieutenant. From November 2005 until January 2009, Dunne served as the city’s fire marshal, overseeing inspections and other public safety matters. That position no longer exists with the city of Elgin, and those duties are either not covered or are handled by a fire inspector.
Dunne recalled receiving a lifesaving award in the early 1990s for one of the more memorable moments on the job. He was part of a crew that helped revive a man in his 20s who was getting married in three weeks.
“He was blue at the house, not breathing, and thanking us went we left the hospital,” Dunne said.
As for battling blazes, Dunne said, “You don’t claim fighting them as a highlight of your career. There’s always loss involved for someone.”
Dunne actually worked for FEMA from October 2003 through September 2004. After a rush of federal money came to the agency in the aftermath of 9/11, Dunne was brought on board in an inter-personnel agreement with Elgin. There, he administered the review of grant applications and made site visits to make sure fire departments were properly using funds they had been granted.
Dunne said his new job has the title “fire program specialist” and will involve a good deal of the same work he did nine years ago at FEMA. His territory in Region 5 will bring him to places in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The job pays a little less than the $92,000 base he had working for the EFD.
“This is a great opportunity for growth and to work on bigger-picture public safety and emergency management issues,” Dunne said.
Dunne was elected to the city council in 2009. He was one of the first firefighters across Illinois to be elected to a council seat after a change in Illinois law allowed firefighters to hold such offices in the towns where they work and live.