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Lehman named new Aurora fire chief

AurorFire Department deputy chief John Lehman updates medisituatiinvolving bird hoarding home Aurora's east side during press conference Wednesday October 24

Aurora Fire Department deputy chief John Lehman updates the media on the situation involving bird hoarding at a home on Aurora's east side during a press conference on Wednesday, October 24, 2012. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 20, 2013 6:31AM

AURORA — Deputy Fire Chief John Lehman is Mayor Tom Weisner’s pick to be the next Aurora fire chief.

“Chief Lehman has a proven track record of leadership,” Weisner said Monday. “The knowledge and experience he gained coming up through the ranks make him the clear choice to become the next chief of Aurora’s world-class fire department.”

A 26-year veteran of the department, Lehman’s appointment is pending City Council approval on March 12.

Lehman, 48, joined the Aurora department in 1987 after a two-year stint as a volunteer with the LaGrange Park Fire Department.

Since 2009, he has served as Aurora’s deputy fire chief, the department’s second-highest rank. In that position, he oversaw the emergency medical services program, internal affairs and public information, and took a lead role in the preparation and management of the department’s $36 million budget, according to city spokesman Dan Ferrelli.

Lehman has also functioned as acting fire chief since former Fire Chief Hal Carlson’s retirement in November 2012.

Lehman said he is honored to serve as the 16th fire chief in the department’s history.

“I have had many mentors, colleagues and friends who have influenced me during my career and when I fill this leadership role, it will be with all of them standing by my side,” Lehman said.

Lehman said Monday that tackling necessary department expansion will be a priority under his watch, which will include plans for a new fire station on the city’s northeast side and reconstructing aging infrastructure.

“We’ve had some expansion issues that have been hampered by the economy. We still have some need to better protect our territory in the northeast (portion) of the city,” he said.

Prior to serving as deputy chief, Lehman was first assistant chief of operations, 3rd shift commander and fire battalion chief, and held the ranks of captain, lieutenant and firefighter/paramedic. In his various roles, he has overseen the department’s training division, fire suppression and rescue operations, incident command, disaster management and served as safety officer for the department, Ferrelli said.

Lehman, his wife Rebekah, and their four daughters live in Sugar Grove. As part of the appointment, Lehman has agreed to move into Aurora’s city limits with 12 months of his confirmation.

Lehman has a bachelor’s degree in Fire Service Administration from Southern Illinois University and has coordinated and taught in the Command and Company Officer Program at the Illinois State Fire Academy since 2000.

Lehman has served with the Aurora Kiwanis Club, West Aurora Sports Boosters and the Presence Mercy Center Hospital Board.

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