News - DeKalb County

New Sycamore fire chief hails from Berwyn: ‘Cannot wait to get this rolling’

New department leadership will oversee an increase in staffing paid for by higher property tax levy rate

Sycamore Mayor, Steve Braser, right, looks on as Carl Reina, left, smiles while his wife, Kelly Reina, middle, pins the Sycamore fire chief badge on Jan. 18, 2023, when Carl Reina was sworn-in as the city of Sycamore's newest fire chief.

SYCAMORE – Sycamore’s new fire chief Carl Reina, who hails from Berwyn, said he chose to take over the city’s fire department because he’s eager to put down roots in the community.

Reina’s wife, Kelly Reina pinned her husband’s badge during a ceremony Tuesday as part of the Sycamore City Council meeting.

Reina, who will fill in the shoes of retired fire chief Pete Polarek, said it felt great to be named to head up the department.

“On behalf of my family, we cannot wait to relocate out here. We’re extremely excited and proud to be a part of the rich tradition that is the Sycamore Fire Department,” Reina, 51, told the Sycamore City Council. “I cannot wait to really get this rolling.”

Polarek, who’d held the position since 2012, will leave the role having used some of his last days to advocate for more staffing at the Sycamore Fire Department. He recently asked the City Council to fund three new firefighter positions on the city’s payroll.

The funding request was approved via an increased property tax levy approved by the city late last year.

During a September City Council meeting, Polarek said the fire department has six individuals working its two stations 75% of the year. City aldermen reconciled with that fact by creating the new full time jobs.

Sycamore will finance the three new fire fighters, which will cost the city $120,000 a year per firefighter, by increasing to the property tax rate from 0.625% in 2022 to 0.682% in 2023.

Sycamore Mayor, Steve Braser, right, watches as Kelly Reina, middle, pins the Sycamore fire chief badge to her husband on Jan. 18, 2023, when Carl Reina was sworn-in as the Sycamore fire chief.

Reina brings his 26 years of experience in fire service to the city.

“The history of the city of Sycamore’s fire department is immense. It’s a good traditional fire service,” Reina said.

Reina described his decision to become Sycamore’s fire chief as “a natural move for him” after spending years as the deputy fire chief for the Berwyn Fire Department in the city of Berwyn, which is in Cook County.

“It’s kind of a good move for my family and I,” Reina said, who said he’s still working to relocate his family to the area.

Asked why he chose to advance his career in Sycamore, Reina cited the community atmosphere as the reason he applied for the job.

“Just the community, honestly it really is. I had a friend who was working here and retired as assistant chief, deputy chief and he recommended that I apply,” Reina said.