03-23-2017 O’Halloran selected as North Berrien Fire Chief; Arclight Brewing Company presents Waterv

PICKING UP THE TAB… Arclight Brewing Company owner David Coyle presents a check in the amount of $24,721.65 to Watervliet Downtown Development Authority Vice-Chair Jennifer Moore. Coyle and brew pub co-owner Ed Nash took advantage of the DDA’s revolving loan program during the creation and opening of Arclight three years ago. The check amount represents the balance of the $60,000 loan, which Coyle paid off early. Surrounding Coyle and Moore are DDA members (from the left): Karl Bayer, Rochelle Ulleg, Kris Krogel, and Tom Gear. Not pictured are DDA members Bob Becker, Dave Brinker, Tim Freeburn, and Kristy Noack. DDA Chairman Bob Becker thanked Coyle for the timely payments, noting that none of them had been late. He added one of the purposes of the DDA is to encourage new business and to support existing businesses. The repayment of the loan makes funds available in the form of grants and loans through the DDA. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

O’Halloran selected as North Berrien Fire Chief

By Annette Christie

Following the findings of a North Berrien Fire Department organizational structure and function study and the recommendation for a full-time Fire Chief in June of 2016, the lengthy detailed search has resulted in the selection of Denis O’Halloran of Berwyn, Illinois.

At a special meeting of the North Berrien Fire Board on Thursday, March 16, the final step in the interview process took place with a six-question interview of the top three candidates, a meet-and-greet with those in attendance, a public comment period, and the final scoring and reveal of the selection.

O’Halloran has 34 years of continuous service with the Berwyn Fire Department, 18 of it in management and administration. He has been the fire chief of the department for the last eight years. He has experience as a paid on call fire fighter, an EMT, and as a paramedic.

The Berwyn Fire Department is on the west side of Chicago and answers about 7,000 calls for service a year.

When asked how long he would plan on continuing to serve in this capacity, O’Halloran said that in planning to move from his west suburban home, he hoped to be kept around for a long time.

His budgeting experience includes controlling 15% of the $14 million dollar budget that is afforded the department he currently runs and its operations.  He said that he has consistently come in under budget at year end.

When answering the familiar interview question of what is your biggest strength and weakness, O’Halloran said that his strength was that he was too nice of a guy especially with weaker people and his weakness would be getting used to not having a fire hydrant every 300-feet.  “That is something I would have to learn to work with,” O’Halloran said.

In creating a transition plan, O’Halloran said he would first get familiar with the area and the personnel in the department. He would communicate with the board members and every single fire fighter and would then create the transition plan that would be best for North Berrien.

O’Halloran said that he prefers to be a working chief and one of the hardest parts of his job currently is standing outside in command and not being hands on in the fire.  He said he does go to every fire and that this does give him an opportunity to see how his employees are working with the public.