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Oak Forest names interim fire chief

In this file phoOak Forest Fire Chief Terry Lipinski speaks news conference after traaccident city. Oak Forest has named an

In this file photo, Oak Forest Fire Chief Terry Lipinski speaks at a news conference after a train accident in the city. Oak Forest has named an interim fire chief while Lipinski is on a personal leave. | File photo

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Updated: February 24, 2014 1:17PM



Park Forest’s former fire chief will temporarily assume that job in Oak Forest while the city’s chief is on leave.

Robert Wilcox Jr., who retired as Park Forest’s chief in March, will manage day-to-day operations of the Oak Forest department for about a month while Fire Chief Terry Lipinski is on personal leave, according to a news release Wednesday from the city.

It was unclear what the leave was for or when it began. City administrator Troy Ishler did not return a message seeking comment.

Normally, the deputy fire chief would assume the chief’s duties, but Oak Forest’s deputy chief, Charles Sopko, also is on leave. He was put on paid administrative leave after he and his wife were arrested Dec. 18 and charged with felony theft of government property for allegedly embezzling about $352,000 from the Palos Heights Fire Protection District over a 30-month period.

Wilcox had been chief in Park Forest since March 2006 and also previously served as fire chief in Matteson. He was the former chairman of SouthCom Dispatch Center, which fields 911 calls for Matteson, Richton Park, Park Forest and Olympia Fields.

Oak Forest said Wilcox is a member of the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association’s Responder Interim Fire Chief Program, which provides experienced fire officials on a temporary basis.



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