On Oct. 15, two new fire lieutenants were sworn in at a ceremony at the fire department. Bobby “B.J.” Reid and Mark Maylath were officially promoted by Mayor Rory Hoskins after selection by the Fire and Police Commission on Oct. 4.
Reid and Maylath join Tim Conrad, who has been a lieutenant for about four years. They fill roles vacated by Tom “T.J.” Janopoulos and Russ Nelson, who retired this month.
Reid, who just turned 44, is in his thirteenth year with the Forest Park Fire Department and worked for 4 more years at the Lisle Woodridge department before that.
“My mom always said, ‘Surround yourself with good people,’ and that’s what I’ve done here in Forest Park,” Reid said. “I work with really good people, and the residents in town really appreciate the work that we do. They say ‘thank you’ all the time. It’s so nice to be in a town where you’re appreciated.”
Reid also lives in Forest Park with his wife and two young sons, who turn four and one at the end of October; with T.J. retiring, Reid is the only Forest Park firefighter who still lives in town.
He credits solid leadership for the strength of the Forest Park Fire Department. If there’s a drill that the firefighters are asked to do, there’s always a good reason for it, Reid said. And the chiefs have always made themselves available. It’s become a habit for the chiefs to sit down and talk to the firefighters while they work out in the afternoon, a tradition that started with former Fire Chief Steve Glinke, was passed down to Bob McDermott, and is now continuing with current Chief Phil Chiappetta.
“They’re all good firefighters who have turned into great chiefs,” Reid said. “The stability that started with Glinke carried on to McDermott and now Chiapetta.”
Because of the strong tradition of solid leadership in the Forest Park Fire Department, Reid said it’s hard to come up with concrete goals for his new role.
“If changes were needed, I’d try to make them,” he said. “I want us to keep doing the good job that we’re doing now. We’re a small but really busy department, and we need to continue to focus on the things that matter.”
One of those things that matter, Reid said, is maintaining openness and focus on mental health for first responders and people in the community.
“Training both in how to help us when we’ve been involved in vivid calls, and in how to help people we encounter, is really beneficial,” Reid said, adding that the union provides excellent counseling services and that the fire department has worked with Riveredge Hospital as well, both excellent resources.
Maylath, 45, just finished his 18th year with the department in September. He’s a trained arson investigator, and in that capacity attended and completed the police academy, making him both a trained fire fighter and police officer. As a member of the Special Response Team, akin to a SWAT team, he brings the added benefit of being a trained paramedic to calls to which the SRT responds.
Maylath said budget constraints are the biggest challenge facing the fire department right now, but, like Reid, he said his goal is to keep the department running successfully.
“I want us to continue to be the best we can be,” Maylath said.
He agreed with Reid that the job can take a toll on people, and a focus on strong mental health resources for first responders is essential.
“Guys are more willing to talk about these things recently,” Maylath said.
He’s excited about the promotion and credits Glinke with encouraging him to take every class he possibly could to advance his career and learn more. McDermott, said Maylath, pushed him to work on his associate degree.
“I’m very lucky and fortunate to have the mentors I’ve had,” Maylath said.