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Oak Forest fire chief to retire

Lipinski  |  Supplied photo

Lipinski | Supplied photo

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Updated: July 9, 2014 6:18AM



Oak Forest Fire Chief Terry Lipinski plans to retire June 27, causing further change in the leadership of the fire department.

Lipinski has served as chief for six years, coming out of retirement to take the post after serving as Bridgeview’s fire chief for 11 years.

He said his immediate plans involve taking the summer off to spend time with his grandchildren. He will continue to serve as vice president for the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System in Illinois and work as safety director for Toyota Park in Bridgeview.

“It’s just been an honor and privilege to serve with these people in the fire department,” he said in a news release. “... Residents can take pride in the fact that they have a very efficient and professional fire department.”

A new chief and deputy chief are expected to be appointed from within the department, city administrator Troy Ishler said.

Aldermen on May 27 dismissed Deputy Fire Chief Charles Sopko, who was on paid suspension since he and his wife were indicted in December on federal charges that they embezzled about $352,000 from the Palos Heights Fire Protection District.

Michelle Sopko worked part time as a bookkeeper/administrative assistant for the fire district and manipulated payroll and accounts payable systems to divert district funds into the couple’s bank account over a 30-month period, according to federal prosecutors.

The city council appointed David Griffin as interim deputy chief, and Ishler said it’s expected to vote Tuesday night on whether to appoint Griffin as fire chief.

Lipinski reorganized the department’s structure to make it more efficient without decreasing service and set up dedicated fire dispatch through the Orland Fire Protection District — moving the city to a fully computerized dispatch system through the use of mobile data computers, according to the news release.

“We are grateful for Terry’s service and dedication to the city of Oak Forest,” Mayor Hank Kuspa said in the release. “He has been instrumental in improving operations and updating processes throughout the fire department.”



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