PONTOON BEACH — After 30 years as chief of the Long Lake Fire Protection District, Danny Kreher decided to retire this year.
“After 30 years, let’s face it,” Kreher said. “It’s a young man’s game out there. I felt the fire department needed some new ideas and I elected myself to step down.”
Kreher’s son, Terry, has taken over chief duties. Kreher said his son has been a member of the Long Lake Fire Department for 15 years and has been assistant chief for four.
“I’m very proud of my son taking my position,” Kreher said. “He’s been involved with the Boy Scouts just like me. Hopefully, he’ll follow my footsteps and do a lot better. I know he’s really looking forward to making some changes. I think it’s time with a younger man being in there. I think he’ll do good. But old dad has to stick around just to oversee some things.”
Kreher joined the Long Lake Fire Department in December 1970. For 45 years, the longtime Pontoon Beach resident was a junior firefighter, captain, assistant chief of rescue squad and assistant chief.
“At age 11, I was in the Boy Scout Troop,” Kreher said. “Then, at age 16, they started a junior fire department. The junior fire department had members ages 16-21. They were not allowed to drive a department vehicle or enter a structure fire, but they still can respond on calls. That’s how I got involved in that. I was the first junior fireman in the state of Illinois. At the age of 21, I was on the fire department as a senior fireman. A year later, I took the captain’s position over the junior fire department, overseeing the junior firemen and training them for a couple of years. Then, I took the assistant chief position. At that time, they had an assistant chief at the rescue squad and the fire department and I took both of those positions for several years before I took the fire chief position in 1985 and that’s where I’ve been since.”
In 1985, Kreher was elected chief. At age 29, Kreher was one of the youngest chiefs in Madison County.
Kreher had several accomplishments during his 30-year run as chief.
“Within the 30 years, I replaced all of the apparatus,” Kreher said. “I lowered the ISO rating, the insurance rating, from a 7 to a 3. I couldn’t have done that without having a good crew. A good set of men. I was a chief at a time, but without a good set of firefighters, I couldn’t have done all of that.”
Kreher is also the fire chief at U.S. Steel. He worked at the steel mill for 41 years and has been a fire chief for 25 of those years.