[cifnmedia] Fire official resigns

  • From: Sean & Kimberly Aaron <cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: CIFN LIST <cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 5 Dec 2003 09:15:07 -0800 (PST)

Fire official resigns;
Kerhlikar convicted of DUI in August 
Copyright 2003 The State Journal-Register   
The State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL)  
 December 2, 2003 Tuesday
Correction Appended  
A Springfield Fire Department division chief who wrecked his motorcycle last 
summer while intoxicated has resigned.
Dan Kerhlikar, 49, stepped down Friday as division chief of fire and rescue. 
His salary was $86,320, and he had been with the department for 25 years. "He 
no longer works for the Springfield Fire Department as of last Friday, the 
28th. At 4:30 (p.m.), he came and signed his papers and he resigned," Fire 
Chief Ron Hasara said Monday.

Kerhlikar had been on medical leave since the June 14 accident, in which he 
suffered broken vertebrae in his neck and other injuries.
At the time, he was standing in as fire chief while Hasara was out of town for 
the weekend. He also was doing a routine stint as "staff member on call," a 
duty that requires the person to be available for consultation with battalion 
chiefs or to be at major fires if needed.

Police said Kerhlikar crashed his Harley-Davidson motorcycle about 10 p.m. at 
11th Street and University Drive. He was taken to St. John's Hospital, where a 
blood-serum test showed his blood-alcohol concentration at 0.19 percent. A 
whole-blood test showed a BAC of 0.12 percent. A person is considered legally 
drunk in Illinois with a BAC of 0.08 percent.

A judge in August sentenced Kerhlikar to a standard first-time-offender 
punishment of court supervision and fines. However, Sangamon County court 
records show a state trooper ticketed him in April 1998 for DUI, improper lane 
usage and not wearing a seat belt. That DUI charge was dismissed for lack of 

Kerhlikar was promoted in September 2002 from deputy division chief to division 
chief of fire/rescue, overseeing firefighting and medical rescue services. He 
also was the department's public information officer at the time of the crash.

By going directly from medical leave to resigning, Kerhlikar avoided any 
possible disciplinary action or demotions. City officials have declined to say 
what, if any, punishment he might have faced.

He did receive a pay raise during the time he was on leave, officials said. As 
recently as August, his salary was $85,045, and the firefighters' union 
contract called for a raise since then.

"He was able to not have any disciplinary action, or none that we know of, and 
he was able to retire with all of his benefits with this additional spike," 
said Ward 7 Ald. Judy Yeager, who noted that the raise and Kerhlikar's 
resignation were done legitimately.

"My disdain for that was not that it couldn't be done, but that somebody who 
was convicted of drunk driving while he was acting chief of the fire department 
should not have been given any additional opportunities but should have been 
let go," she said. "It wasn't as if we were putting this man out on a welfare 
situation. His benefits were already good."

Hasara said Monday the department has made no policy changes in light of 
Kerhlikar's drinking and driving while on duty. He said staff members on call 
drive a department-owned duty car that was freed up when the department 
purchased new cars for battalion chiefs this year.

"We did that so that staff duty officer will be in that car at all times. 
That's probably the only change. And that wasn't because of Dan - it was 
because we got the extra cars," Hasara said. "Now they can get to calls and 
alarms faster.

"They cannot drink and drive in city vehicles," Hasara added.

"Our policy has always been, and our staff knows it, that if they're on call 
they need to be able to respond to a call at any time."


Sean A. Aaron (CIFN*1)
Central Illinois Fire Network

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