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Fire Commissioner Stepping Down

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Crime on the rise in the Chicago area has con men often posing as handymen or utility workers. This story was published February 16, 2012 at 10 p.m.

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Three months before Chicago welcomes world leaders for the NATO/G8 summits, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is losing one of his administration's top officials.

Chicago Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff will resign from his post on Thursday, a firefighter's union spokesman said.

"On behalf of the Chicago Fire Fighters' Union, we wish Commissioner Hoff well in his retirement," Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 president Tom Ryan said in a statement.

Ryan continued: 

"[Hoff] was a public servant of unquestionable integrity with a passionate and unwavering commitment to fire safety for the public-at-large as well as for rank-and-file firefighters and paramedics.  He always stood-up for what he believed in and was never afraid to speak his mind.  He was the unique leader who was able to cut budgets while never sacrificing vital resources or staffing, and as a result Chicago firefighters and paramedics have the fastest response time of any city in the nation.  That is a legacy to be proud of.  Chicago is truly a better and safer city because of his leadership and public service."

Ryan told NBC Chicago he personally spoke with Hoff and was surprised to hear the news but would not comment as to why the commissioner was stepping down.

"I was a little bit surprised. I figured with everything that the city is facing right now that change at the top might have been a little unusual, let's say, but the Chicago Fire Department is the greatest fire department in the world. We'll carry on," he said.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday that the decision was Hoff's own; one made to coincide with the 50th anniversary of his father's death.

Hoff's apparent replacement, Jose Santiago, is well-respected, a union spokesman said. Santiago is the former head of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications. City Hall declined to comment Wednesday on Hoff's replacement.

Hoff is a third-generation firefighter with more than 30 years of experience, his biography on the city's website states. He was appointed to his current post by former Mayor Richard M. Daley and confirmed by the City Council on June 30, 2010.

"The membership will miss him greatly. He's a rare breed of a boss that the membership actually didn't like, they loved him," said Ald. Nicholas Sposato (36th).

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