Forest Park officials are acting quickly to fill an unexpected vacancy in the fire department, and the village council approved on July 23 Fire Chief Bob McDermott’s request to hire a new firefighter.

At a village board meeting, council members voted 5-0 to direct the Fire and Police Commission to select a candidate from the eligibility list to replace Miguel Casanova, a firefighter who resigned July 11. McDermott said Casanova resigned “for personal reasons” after eight years as a firefighter. He also served as a paramedic for two years before then.

In addition to his firefighter duties, Casanova served as the department’s unofficial historian, collecting newspaper clippings and online stories about the department. He said Casanova would process material donated to the department such as scrapbooks or memorabilia.  

McDermott said he wants to continue having somebody from the department handle those duties, noting such material is not only fire department history but also village history.

He recalled Casanova scanning material from multiple scrapbooks donated by the family of former Fire Chief Bill Vrtis after his death in 2011. He was with the department for more than 40 years and served as chief from 1972 to 1979.

McDermott said he hopes the new recruit will be selected in time to start training at the Romeoville Fire Academy in September. Instruction will take seven weeks, including one week of hazardous material training.

The last time the fire department needed to fill a vacancy was in 2016 following the retirement of Chief Steve Glinke. McDermott was promoted to replace Glinke, who is now director of the village’s public health and safety department. 

McDermott said all shifts will continue to be fully staffed with the shortfall covered by firefighters working overtime.

At full strength, the department consists of 21 firefighters, the deputy chief and the chief.