Frankfort Fire Chief Robert Wilson is living out his dream.
“Being a member of the Frankfort Fire District has been fantastic in many ways,” Wilson told Will County Gazette. “Every day, the men and women of the organization make a difference in the lives of our residents and visitors within our 42 square miles that we protect. Each day is something different and I enjoy the challenges.”
Wilson has more than 30 years in the fire/emergency field and started working for the Frankfort Fire District when it was an all-volunteer organization. Prior to becoming fire chief in 2016, he held the positions of firefighter/paramedic, lieutenant, division chief of training, and assistant chief of operations.
Frankfort Fire Chief Robert Wilson
“When I became fire chief I had a few goals that I wanted to achieve,” he said. “One was to ensure that each member of the organization obtains a medical exam to prevent or detect cardiac-related items or cancer. Both of these items are some of the leading causes of death in the fire service. Other goals were to work with our village and state officials to enhance communications to get our voice heard and to enhance our community risk-deduction programs by using social media to educate the public on fire prevention and recent events.”
Wilson was born in Chicago and grew up in Crestwood, Hickory Hills and Oak Lawn. He said he has always been interested in fire and emergency services.
“I had an uncle that was a firefighter in Hometown, and he would take me to the fire station,” Wilson said. “In Crestwood, a few of our neighbors were firefighters and I recall them driving past the house with the blue lights. But what really started my passion for the fire service like so many others was watching the TV show "Emergency" – the inside look at being a firefighter/paramedic like Johnny Gage and Roy Desoto.”
Wilson is currently involved in a number of community organizations. He is president of the Will County Fire Chiefs Association, secretary for the 100 Club of Will County, secretary of the Metro Fire Chiefs Association, board of director for the Kiwanis Club of Frankfort, board of director for Illinois Fire Chiefs Educational and Research Foundation, and field staff instructor for the University of Illinois-Fire Service Institute. He is also a member of Joliet Junior College Emergency Services Advisory Committee; Anthony DeLuca, State Representative – 80th District Illinois House of Representatives Public Safety Advisory Committee; and Program Planning Committee for the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
The fire department itself performs a variety of services for the community including CPR classes, car-seat installation, fire extinguisher training, school visits, public safety events and providing EMS standby for Lincoln Way East Football games.
“You become a firefighter to help those in need, it’s what we all do,” Wilson said. “The fire departments respond to many incidents where residents don’t know who else to call. The department gets called for broken water pipes, electrical and plumbing issues, animal complaints, being locked in or out of homes. Many other public agencies may say that it’s not their job to perform these acts of kindness, but the fire department will respond and at least attempt to solve the issues.”
When he’s not helping others, Wilson enjoys running and spending time with his family.