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Oak Forest gets new fire chief

David Griffwas sworn as Oak Forest's fire chief during Tuesday night's city council meeting.  |  Nick Swedberg/For Sun-Times

David Griffin was sworn in as Oak Forest's fire chief during Tuesday night's city council meeting. | Nick Swedberg/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 12, 2014 6:44AM



Oak Forest aldermen on Tuesday night approved the appointment of David Griffin as fire chief, replacing retiring Chief Terry Lipinski.

Griffin, who became the interim deputy fire chief last month, has served 14 years with the Oak Forest Fire Department and was in charge of training. He said Lipinski ran the department well, and “it’s going to be a fairly easy transition for us. I don’t think anything needs to be remodeled.”

Griffin was chosen from among several fire lieutenants who interviewed for the job.

“It was a difficult decision because we have so many outstanding candidates,” Mayor Hank Kuspa said.

Replacing Griffin as deputy chief will be John Janozik, a 28-year department veteran whom aldermen also appointed Tuesday night. He served as the department’s first deputy chief for one year in 1996.

Lipinski’s last day is June 27. He was fire chief for six years, coming out of retirement to take the post after serving as Bridgeview’s chief for 11 years.

Janozik also praised Lipinski’s time as chief and said he anticipated building on a strong department and taking it in a new direction.

Griffin was named interim deputy chief May 27 after aldermen removed Deputy Chief Charles Sopko from the position. Sopko had been on paid suspension since he and his wife were indicted in December, accused of embezzling about $352,000 over 30 months from the Palos Heights Fire Protection District where Michelle Sopko worked part time as an administrative assistant/bookkeeper.

Griffin said Charles Sopko still is employed by the fire department, but neither he nor Janozik were certain of Sopko’s status, specifically whether he remains suspended with pay.



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