Interest in fire fighting spans decades
AT LOCAL 1’S UNION hall in Chicago, Bob Schwartz is known as the lodge vice president, one of its business agents, and its training director. Sixty miles down the road, in the comfortable, small town of Shorewood, they have a new title for him — “chief.”
Schwartz took on the title of fire chief for the Troy Fire Protection District — which serves Shorewood, unincorporated Troy Township, and parts of Kendall County, near Joliet — soon after the death of Kerry Sheridan, who died in office (literally) after a half century as the district fire chief.
A 40-year Boilermaker, Schwartz grew up behind the original Troy Volunteer Fire Department “fire barn,” according to the suburban Chicago Herald News. “As a youngster, when the siren would sound to summon the volunteers, he would be the first there and would open the doors, turn on the lights, and start the trucks for the firefighters,” the newspaper reported.
According to Schwartz, it was Sheridan’s wish that Schwartz succeed him as fire chief. “Nobody will ever fill his boots,” Schwartz said, “but I will walk in his footprints.”
Schwartz’s enthusiasm for firefighting is surpassed only by his devotion to the Boilermakers and labor. “When you do something to help people, it feels good,” he said. Referring to his role as Local 1 training director, he stated: “When you teach an apprentice and see him strike that arc and run a nice little bead, that’s an awesome feeling.”
Schwartz’s service to his union also includes roles as labor co-chair for the Excelon GPA Powerhouse Area Committee and recording secretary of the Will-Grundy Building Trades Council. He has also served as a judge for the National Boilermaker Apprentice Competition as well as the Great Lakes and Northeast Area Apprentice of the Year Contest. In addition, he has represented Local 1 at three International Conventions, where he has served on the Rules Committee and as a sergeant at arms.