No one waiting in wings for SLFD chief job, says president (AUDIO)

Silver Lake village President Sue Gerber said that there is no obvious candidate for chief of theĀ Silver Lake Fire Department.

Gerber made that statement in an interview with after Wednesday’s volatile board meeting in which acting Chief Roger Pattie resigned as chief. His resignation came after the board voted down a motion to contract until Novemeber with Town of Salem Fire/Rescue for fire protection services for Silver Lake. Pattie, who had recommended approving the contract, said the board’s decision showed a lack of concern for citizens.

Members of the board majority said village residents will be sufficiently covered by neighboring departments in Randal and Wheatland until a new chief can be found and the floundering SLFD is put back on the right track.

In the interview, Gerber said there was one candidate who had approached the board about serving as chief, but he subsequently did not work out. Other prospects might come from former members who have expressed a desire to return to the department, she said.

She also repeated her assertion from the meeting that perhapsĀ the best candidate for fire chief will be someone who is not seen as pro-SLFD or Silver Lake Rescue Squad.

Here is the whole interview:



  1. I'm concerned!!! says:

    As a resident of Silver Lake for almost 20 years, this is the first time that I have ever been concerned about my safety! What is happening in this village is not safe, the majority of the trustees aren’t concerned about my safety, they are trying to keep the village in the past. We can’t live in the past anymore, we can’t have a volunteer Fire Department and we need leadership! PLEASE, Silver Lake residents, think about what is happening in our village and do something!!! Don’t sit back and wait for someone else to step up….you need to step up now, before a tragedy happens. Randall and Wheatland do not have the resources to cover our village. They don’t have enough people to cover Silver Lake and guarantee coverage to their own residents. Wake up Silver Lake.

  2. Move now says:

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If you have the opportunity to get out of the village, do it now! Your insurance is going to skyrocket, and you can guarantee your property will not be saved! Instead of putting minds together and working towards a common goal, it seems “pro” this and “pro” that are NOT making good decisions on how to protect the village. Again, no matter who says what or does what, it seems there is so much bad blood within the village that the only way to fix this is by completely wiping out all the “townies” from EVERY department, and starting from scratch!

  3. Better With Bernie says:

    Let me get this straight.
    The Village President wants to hire a Fire Chief who is NOT pro Silver Lake Fire Department? So she wants the leader of your fire department not be “all in” on its success? Why?
    Could it be that a majority of the board is already not “pro SLFD” and they want a like minded person?
    But Queen Sue says SHE is the one trying to save the SLFD, not the members who already serve it.
    So the interview with the potential new chief goes like this: “So you are qualified for the job and aren’t fully behind it’s success? Perfect, you are hired!”
    Per The Queen’s timeline we will see the person what fits that mold today.
    As the WTMJ broadcast said “dysfunctional”.

  4. Bernard Punsley says:

    My concern is that “The Queen” is using both the MABAS system and the integrity of the Randall and Wheatland Fire Chiefs. MABAS was NEVER intended to serve as a primary 1st due response in a community that could not provide fire or rescue squad coverage. That is what “contracting” is for. Paddock Lake has to contract with Salem for coverage……the Wilmot ski hill contracts with SLRS, Brighton contracts with Salem….I think you get the picture. The Silver Lake village board has used the MABAS system to circumvent having to contract out the services they are not able to provide. I doubt very seriously that either the Randall or Wheatland fire chief’s told our board they could provide 1st due primary coverage in Silver Lake without a significant time delay. While both are fine departments, they face the same equally stressed manpower needs that are so detrimental to Silver Lake. And I don’t know HOW they could assert their longer response times will not affect safety. Sue and Roger Johnson are telling us “everything is fine, we are covered, our fire trucks are pristine, SLFD tried to create “mass hysteria’ and is trying to “sell” our department to Salem. Speaking of Salem, you’ll note they have been conveniently left out of this entire equation. I would like to have the Randall and Wheatland fire chief’s tell us how long it will take them to get a rig out the door with a minimum of 3 people on it, and how long it will take to get to downtown Silver Lake. Keep your smoke detectors and your home owner’s insurance policies up to date folks.

  5. Bernard Punsley says:

    The board has “no one waiting in the wings” to take over the fire chief duties and responsibilities for the Silver Lake Fire Department. Why ANYONE would want to subject themselves to what Chief’s McFarlane and Pattie(and their families ) just went through defies common sense! The Queen will be looking for a “Yes” man who’s strings can be conveniently pulled by the board. She will not want a person that is “pro SLRS” or “pro SLFD”. Heaven forbid!! By her own admission, some “former SLFD” members have expressed interest in returning to the department and might be considered as candidates for the chief’s job. Wouldn’t that make them “pro SLFD”. Hypothetical 1st question the board might ask a prospective fire chief candidate: “Do you consider yourself Pro-Silver Lake Fire Department”? Answer: “Absolutely not! this department has sadly become the laughing stock of Kenosha County thanks to the efforts of this board, and I will do everything in my power to carry out that mission”. I’m thinking there are at least 2 or 3(or more) qualified members of the SLRS with firefighting/command experience….maybe one of them could step up to the plate. It might even help ease the transition between the 2 department(fire and rescue)….but oooopps…I forgot, they would probably be “pro-SLRS’….and that would disqualify them. Folks,we’ve got a 3 ring circus going on…..let’s get the popcorn wagon set up, the Queen has her top hat, long tails and whip out…..LET THE SHOW BEGIN”.

  6. Bernard Punsley says:

    Just wondering if Chief Gronke and Chief Denko will let the Silver Lake village board micromanage their departments like they did with Fire Chiefs McFarlane and Pattie. In case they have not been paying real close attention, Sue Gerber maintains the SLFD helped create “mass hysteria” in the village, the SLFD does not care about “saving itself” and it trying to “sell itself” to the town of Salem. Those are all her words, not mine. She also maintains that our village is safe with no impact on our fire protection. If either chief had to shut down their respective fire department, could they seriously maintain that their fire protection would not suffer if Silver Lake Fire(assuming they were back in service) was their “first due” responding fire department? I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that. That’s not a knock on them or their departments, I truly believe they are trying to help us out. But reality and fantasy are worlds apart here folks.

  7. West of 45 Citizen says:

    If I were a citizen of Silver Lake I would be ashamed of the Village leadership. Just a view from outside as it is apparent that the leadership is totally disfunctional and inconsiderate of basic village services.

  8. Dick Ginkowski says:

    I obviously don’t live in the village but I know many who do and I know how divisive and painful this very important issue is. The fire department in a small community is more than just a public safety service — it is part of the community’s fabric and, right now, both are in jeopardy. This isn’t a matter of just finding a new fire chief and certainly shouldn’t be one of politics or personalities although any solution should taken into account the fire department’s social and historical role in the community and the contributions of those who have served and may be willing to serve. But there is a need to do something.

    First, Silver Lake residents should realize that they are not alone. There are problems in many small communities nationwide with volunteer fire departments and rescue squads securing sufficient capital and human resources. Other communities may have found ways of dealing with this that should be examined.

    Second, solutions must be both short-term and long-term. The immediate needs must be addressed. If the fire trucks need 18 new tires to make them safe to operate, so be. The village should be out buying tires today and if the hat has to be passed to pay for it, then do it. No matter where people stand, everyone should agree that you can’t put unsafe vehicles on the road. One can wonder and point fingers at how things got that way but sometimes you have to stop the leak before you find the source.

    Third, the village government and citizens must take leadership on this issue, not bicker. Perhaps part of the problem is a failure to exercise such leadership and oversight over the years. It is not inappropriate to consider whether the village should hire a fire and rescue chief to oversee these important services. Had that been done and the chief did his or her job properly, then there would be in place a budget for equipment replacement and repair as well as professional development of the staff, paid and volunteer. Now you can sit there all day and complain about who let the horse out of the barn but the horse is still out of the barn. It’s time to find the horse, bring it home and nurse it back to health.

    The village may need outside help. Before making long-term decisions, some audit of fire and rescue services from a neutral source may be in order. This is a serious decision which needs serious attention, not politics.

    Fourth, emotions can be good or bad but they are real nonetheless and must be respected. The conversations shouldn’t be premised on whether to put the fire department or rescue squad out of business but how can these services best be provided in the future, respecting the contributions of those who have done so for decades. They must be an integral part of the conversation and any solution would likely incorporate them in some fashion. Regardless of the future governance the people and equipment that have provided these services in the past in all likelihood should still be there and must be enhanced and maintained. If there will be a transformation, then it must be done with full dignity and respect.

    I am semi-retired and willing to put my money where my mouth is and to that extent am willing to provide whatever mediation services may be needed or sought by my friends in the village.

    Finally, while this may seem like a dark moment — and it is — it could turn out to be a silver lining if it leads to a proper examination of how public safety services are provided and appropriate solutions implemented to do so. But everyone involved must stop the static and work together for a solution.

  9. Anti Jeff says:

    I wonder if Jeff is happy his agenda is finally starting to come to life. The systematic derailment of Silver Lake is finally here. Its like hearing rumors of Godzilla, but until it finally comes ashore no one believes the stories.

  10. Kathleen Perkins says:

    I wonder if these small villages have considered merging their fire departments into a single dept with responsibility for the combined area. Fire apparatus is expensive to buy & maintain; however, it is not in constant use. One big fire dept would have the tax base to pay the necessary expenses, vs a bunch of struggling small depts where one can’t even afford to buy tires. I hate to bring up Illinois as an example, but Illinois law provides for legal entities called Fire Protection Districts (FPD), which are single purpose taxing bodies used to fund and organize fire depts. FPDs are not geographically bound by municipal boundaries; it is common for them to include all or parts of several municipalities as well as unincorporated areas. FPDs are governed by their own boards, not by the local village board. I think a larger fire district would give some relief to the problems described here.

  11. Bernard Jackass says:

    Mr. Punsley is the one that made all this happen, pretty sad as an ex official in this town you put it down in every statement you make, all’s we need is you out, we really don’t need you!

  12. Bernard Punsley says:

    @Dick Ginkowski….your comments were very poignant well written. If you look at the first comment in the article about the SLFD firefighters sponsoring a pancake breakfast to raise funds for needy families in the community, you will get a pretty good handle on the rancor against our fire department by some community members, including board members. It continues to fester. You may or may not know that an Ad Hoc committee of various fire and EMS members from surrounding communities and Silver Lake conducted an in depth study of the problems facing Emergency Services (fire and rescue) in the village. They presented 5 options to the board, one of which was to maintain the “status quo”. The committee was pretty much run out of town and lambasted at every given opportunity. The new board has shown no indication that they are willing to improve the situation. How would you like to be a SL firefighter and hear your board president say in public “our fire department does not want to save themselves, they want to sell themselves to Salem”. Pretty tough. While I think a person with your reputation and background could provide some much needed mediation services, and an “outside independent review” would be welcome in my mind, be aware that the “ostrich approach”(you know, stick your head in the sand, the problems will go away)continues to run rampant out here. Your concerns are both valid and appreciated…despite the facade that the board continues to display, our emergency services in Silver Lake are in a world of hurt.

  13. Bernard Punsley says:

    @Bernard Jackass: I caused all of this chaos in the village? Really? All by my lonesome self? Guess I had more pull than I thought! I shall continue to monitor and maintain the pulse of this village, to the chagrin of many, yourself included. And as you so adequately observed, I DO have the ability to “perplex the perplexed”. Something I must have learned when I was “in office’.

  14. To Kathleen Perkins says:

    Kathleen you are right. The village had a professional study done. They came up with 5 suggestions. One was to merge with Silver Lake rescue a private company to become municipal. They said no. Another was to merge with Salem Fire. Salem board said yes and Silver Lake board said no. Silver lake board voted down all other suggestions. The committee told the board if they did not act that they would lose firefighters resulting in the loss of their department. It happened and the board is not taking responsibly. They are pointing fingers at other people and they should be pointing at themselves.

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