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Chicago Appoints a New Fire Chief

Chicago Appoints a New Fire Chief

Chicago Sun-Times via YellowBrix

July 01, 2010

CHICAGO – Chicago Fire Department veteran Robert Hoff will be the city’s new fire commissioner after alderman unanimously approved his appointment today.

Hoff, the department’s first deputy commissioner since 2008, has been with the department for 33 years. He is a third generation firefighter.

Hoff has twice been awarded the department’s highest honor for bravery. In 1992, he was given the award for rescuing elderly residents from a burning building following a gas explosion. And in 1997, he saved four-year-old twin boys from an Englewood building fire.

He spent 21 days in a burn unit after suffering injuries in a 1984 fire.

Ald. Edward Burke, 14th, said today that Hoff is only the second commissioner in the city’s history to have won the Carter Harrison Award.

“As we all know, bravery never goes out of fashion,” Burke said while speaking in favor of Hoff’s nomination as members of the fire department lined the back wall of the council chambers.

Hoff replaces John Brooks, who told city officials last month that he is retiring. The sudden notice came months after the city began looking into allegations that a sexual harassment complaint against Brooks was swept under the rug. Daley appointed Brooks in July 2008. He was the second African-American to lead the department.

Hoff said he was drawn to the job after his father, Chicago Fire Department battalion chief Thomas Hoff, died in 1962 at age 44 in a building collapse.

“That’s all I ever wanted in my life was to be a firefighter,” Hoff said when he was introduced by Mayor Richard Daley at a City Hall news conference last week.

Hoff, 54, was the incident commander for the fire department’s deployment to New York City in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attacks, and to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, the mayor said.

“In addition to his bravery, he is a great administrator and leader,” Daley said.

Hoff said he hopes to continue the strong recent cross-training programs and level of professionalism for firefighters he said have made the Chicago Fire Department among the best-prepared in the country.