It was during ride time on a fire engine that Antonio Torres, Forest Park’s newest addition to the fire department, decided he wanted to be a firefighter. He was a paramedic at the time, going out on training runs that included time spent on fire engines.
“It was a career-changing moment for me,” he said. “I saw the action and the possibility, and I knew it was what I wanted to do.”
Torres, born and raised in Chicago where he currently lives, started school at the University of Illinois Chicago to become a pharmacist. He began as a chemistry major but switched gears with the intent of becoming a physician’s assistant.
A doctor he talked to told him training and working as an EMT was a good way to get experience, and Torres followed that advice, attending Loyola’s EMT and paramedic programs. He got his first taste of firefighting and didn’t look back. Although he temporarily worked for a private ambulance company, he says he wanted to be in a fire house and going on rides with the fire department solidified that decision.
“I love it a lot,” Torres said of his job. “Some people say they hate getting up in the morning and going to work. I never feel that way. I never feel like I don’t want to go to work.”
About the Forest Park Fire Department, he says everyone has welcomed him with open arms. “This is a department where everyone is willing to help out,” said Torres.
Outside of work, he enjoys camping and hiking and has an extensive vinyl record collection, a hobby he picked up from his father.
“I’m humbled to be here, to be part of this village,” he said.
Fire Chief Bob McDermott said the department is glad to have Torres.
“I’m impressed by his work ethic,” said McDermott. “When the regular training is done, Antonio can be found down on the apparatus floor going through compartments, learning the locations of the equipment or sitting down at the kitchen table studying the village map. He puts in extra time trying to learn all of the things a new firefighter needs to know.”
Rachell Entler, chair of the Forest Park Fire and Police Commission, said she is glad to have Torres on the department.
“He is a wonderful addition to our department, and we look forward to Antonio getting to know Forest Park and our wonderful community,” said Entler.