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Homewood FD completes ‘largest departmental change in years’

The Homewood Fire Department completed what Chief Bob Grabowski called the “largest change for the department in years” with a series of personnel moves this week.

Captains Bill Wright and Larry Lipinski were recognized at the Jan. 28 village board meeting. Each retired in November. Both men became cadets with the department in 1979. Wright was hired full time in 1989 and Lipinski in 1991.

“I really appreciate their commitment to the department, their commitment to the village and their understanding of what it was I was trying to accomplish,” Grabowski said of Lipinski and Wright. “They really helped to change the culture of the department and the future of the department.”

Their retirements triggered a series of moves that included four promotions and three new hires.

“It’s been a great 40 years. It was a great ride,” Lipinski said. “All good things come to an end.” 

John Elashik and Tom Gaskin were each promoted from lieutenant to captain to replace Wright and Lipinski. Both were sworn in at the board meeting.

Gaskin started with Homewood in 1998 and was promoted to lieutenant in 2018. Elashik was hired full time in 2004 and also made lieutenant in 2018.

Gaskin will take over Wright’s former shift. Elashik will handle Lipinski’s.

Those promotions left two lieutenant vacancies in the department, which were also officially filled on Jan. 28. Ryan Schneiter and Ryan Tracy moved into those roles. 

“I’m looking so forward to finishing my career up here in Homewood, watching these guys continue to grow. They’ve worked so hard to train for these positions and they are so ready,” Grabowski said. “You’ve got the best fire department in the state of Illinois right here.” 

Richard Qualter, Edgar Serna and Tom Schlesinger were hired on Dec. 6 as full-time firefighters/paramedics. They were sworn in on Jan. 14.

“We, up here as a board, really owe a vote of confidence and appreciation to you, Chief (Grabowski),” Mayor Richard Hofeld said. “You’ve honed this into a beautiful fire department, all under your auspices.”

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