East Joliet Fire Chief Scholtes strives to protect
Robert Scholtes Jr. cherishes the rewards he receives from being Fire Chief of East Joliet Fire Protection District.
“The most favorite thing is working with the men and women of the department as we strive to protect citizens residing in, traveling through or working within the district,” Scholtes told Will County Gazette.
Scholtes became fire chief in 2000 as a part-time chief. His start in the fire department came through his father, who was a volunteer for East Joliet.
“I saw my father responding to emergencies as I grew up and really enjoyed going with him to the fire station to see his fellow firefighters,” Scholtes said. “These men were his extended family and each of them during their training nights involved me in as much as possible. Then at the age of 18 I started as a volunteer and became the first full-time chief in 2006 after working in a very rewarding career in a refinery’s emergency response organization.”
Scholtes’ goals as fire chief center around providing the best service possible.
“This includes lowering our ISO (insurance service office) rating for the district,” he said. “By being able to lower our ISO rating, our residents enjoy a reduction on their homeowners insurance. Our most recent rating went from a class 5 (Hydrant Area), and class 7 (Non-Hydrant Area) to a class 4 in the district.”
Since becoming fire chief, Scholtes said the district has purchased much-needed equipment such as new updated self-contained breathing apparatus, new tender to transport water to non-hydrant areas, a new ladder 105’ truck, and new squad to bring rescue tools to the scene.
In addition to responding to emergencies, the East Joliet Fire Protection District offers a program where residents can go to the main station and receive a free carbon monoxide (CO) detector. They also provide home fire inspections and make recommendations on what a families can do to further protect themselves from a fire.
“This would include checking if there are operating smoke detectors and CO detectors present, possible overloaded electrical circuits, [and] items which may be stored too close to an ignition source,” Scholtes said.
Scholtes was born and raised in Joliet, and is a current Joliet resident. He has a bachelor’s degree in fire emergency management from Perdue University Global. He also holds numerous state certifications.
Scholtes is a member of Illinois Fire Chiefs, Fire Protection Districts, and International Fire Chiefs. He belongs to Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) Division 19, and is an associate member of MABAS Division 15.
“The communities that belong to these divisions assist each other with resources when needed to assist in mitigating an emergency,” Scholtes said.
Scholtes likes to spend his free time with his family and work in his yard.