River Forest fire Chief Kurt Bohlmann (middle) poses with village President Cathy Adduci (right) and acting Chief Bob Nortier (left). | Provided

River Forest officials saluted retiring fire Chief Kurt Bohlmann at the Sept. 13 village board meeting and appointed Robert Nortier, a former deputy chief in River Forest, as his temporary replacement.

Bohlmann, who announced his retirement in July, has served as fire chief since 2017. His last day was Sept. 20.

With dozens of current and former firefighters packing the Community Room, village President Cathy Adduci thanked him for his service and presented him with a plaque.

“I want to thank you for stepping up to the big job,” she said. “You didn’t disappoint.

“You are the front line, you are the first responder to this community. It’s evident how professional and how respectful you are to our citizens. We appreciate all that you’ve done.”

Lisa Scheiner, acting village administrator, also thanked Bohlmann for his service, citing his leadership in starting a paramedic program in the village in 1998 and helping organize a COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort that led to 1,400 people receiving vaccinations.

“Care and compassion for others in evident in everything you do,” she said. “Your expertise and leadership have made you an excellent fire chief. You’ve been an excellent teammate and friend. Your kindness will never be forgotten.”

In turn, Bohlmann credited the firefighters for his success.

“They make me look good every day,” he said. “It’s not me; it’s them.

“It’s been an honor and a pleasure to serve here for 31 years. All of you have been great to work with. Thanks also go to my wife because she’s the one who took care of the kids.”

In recommending Nortier for the acting chief position, Scheiner noted his familiarity with the village and the fire department.

“While he will need to be brought up to speed on a few matters, he is already familiar with the staff, collective bargaining agreement, village and fire department policies and procedures, equipment, facility, community, geography, and infrastructure,” she said. “Nortier will bring stability to the department during this time of transition and will be able to assist the village in onboarding the new fire chief.”

Nortier joined the River Forest Fire Department as a firefighter/emergency medical technician in 1984 after serving the North Riverside Fire Department. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1996, captain in 2002 and deputy fire chief in 2004. He retired in 2015.

“I appreciate the opportunity,” Nortier said. “This is a great group. I am looking forward to what lies ahead.”

He will serve at least until Bohlmann’s replacement is hired, possibly longer to help with the transition. Although an exact salary was not available, the salary range for fire chief is between $126,925 and $171,109 annually.

In July, River Forest officials hired GovHR, a Northbrook-based public management consulting firm serving local government clients and other public-sector entities across the country, to conduct a search for a new fire chief. The application deadline was Sept. 3 and officials anticipate hiring a new chief in November. 

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