During this season of thanks and reflection I would be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to let the village of North Riverside know how thankful and fortunate I am to have had the experience of working for you the last 13 years.
When I tested to be a firefighter with North Riverside, it was with hundreds of others vying for this position. I was asked by many, including the Civil Service Commission at my oral interview, why I would want to leave the friends I had made and take a significant pay reduction, go through another probationary period and start over again after I was already a sworn professional member of a fire department.
My answer was simple; I wanted to come home. North Riverside was the place I wanted to be. It was very appealing to me to know that I would be called if there was a fire at my mom’s house, my house, my brother’s house, my sister’s house, and my countless friends that I have had and made since. That is still very special to me.
I ended up finishing No. 1 and was hired in August of 2002. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit. I along with Richie Gray had the amazing opportunity to represent you and drive down in Forest Park’s ladder truck with Division 11 team members, among others, in the first wave of responders to do the best we could.
The experience earned us rewards but would never have been possible if this town had not answered the call far across our country for help and gave us the chance to do the best we could and represent you.
The other professional opportunities presented to me here have been incredible. I was encouraged and granted to seek and attain professional certifications that are too many to list specifically. Ranging everywhere from Technical Rescue, Hazmat, CPR Instructor, Officer School, Water Rescue, to my most recent, just last month, Fire Inspector. Many people go their entire careers without having the chance to take a fraction of these classes.
This town has been more to me than a great job and a good salary (don’t worry too much fellow taxpayers, it is not nearly as good as some would have you believe.) Some time ago, as the newest member of the department, I was dreading having to take all of the change we collected from your generosity for MDA boot day to the bank.
When I least expected it I walked into a North Riverside institution with a sack full of nickels and dimes only to meet a young woman who would later become my wife. As luck would have it, merely one week earlier she had joined the military and was scheduled to leave for training within the year. Isn’t it funny how life works?
With current events, there is some uncertainty about how the fire department will move forward, as there always is in life. But one thing is certain it has been and continues to be an honor and a privilege to serve you as a North Riverside firefighter.
Robert “Jason” Williams