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St. Charles fire chief to retire

ST. CHARLES – The St. Charles City Council on Monday will honor Fire Chief Patrick Mullen, who plans to retire this month.

Mullen, 56, said Friday he enjoys his job and working in St. Charles, but he is stepping down for personal reasons.

“From my perspective,” he said, “It’s time.”

His last day will be Nov. 29.

City administrator Brian Townsend said Mullen will be difficult to replace.

“I’ve worked with several fire chiefs in my career,” Townsend said. “I have to say, Patrick is one of the best. He works very hard. He’s done a lot of things for the fire department in the five years he’s been here. I think the city is going to miss him. The residents of St. Charles owe him gratitude for the things he’s accomplished.”

Mullen joined the fire department in 2007 after 19 years with the Naperville Fire Department, where he was assistant fire chief.

He described his years in St. Charles as busy and challenging. When he was hired, he said the economy was markedly different than what it has become. He faced shrinking budgets and had to keep positions unfilled although they had once been identified as desirable.

The fire department is in the process of earning national accreditation, an achievement Mullen championed, Assistant Fire Chief Joe Schelstreet said.

National accreditation involves an in-depth review of every aspect of the fire department, including its emergency response, its facility and equipment upkeep, its human resources programs and its budget, Schelstreet said.

“If it touches the fire department, it’s examined,” he said. “What comes out of it is a true picture of how you’re performing now, and then you can build a step-by-step program for continual improvement. That’s something we’re very much in favor of here.”

Schelstreet will serve as acting chief until May.

“Leading this department is an honor,” he said.

Townsend said this time frame will allow the new mayor and new aldermen, if any, to participate in the selection process.

“There could be a significant amount of turnover, not only in the mayor’s office but in the City Council,” Townsend said of the April elections.

Mullen said he and his wife will continue to live in St. Charles.

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