Captain P.J. Casey, fire fighter/paramedic Christopher Fochs, Chief Greg Klaiber, fire fighter/paramedic Justin Norris, Captain Bill Muno and fire fighter/paramedic Rob Byrne were among those recognized at the Dec. 8 awards ceremony.

Fire Chief Greg Klaiber, together with Division Chiefs Thomas Janetske, Jeff Block and Dwight Hoel, presented commendations and awards to members of Evanston’s Fire and Life Safety division at a ceremony held on Dec. 8 in the Morton Civic Center. “On a daily basis, I observe how the men and women of our department respond to emergencies and care for our citizens, and I could not be more proud,” said Chief Klaiber.

Chaplain David Jones told the firefighters he had decided not to given an invocation that evening, “because every-thing you do is an answer to a prayer.”

Each of the firefighters honored received a letter of commendation from Chief Klaiber, as they were recognized for rescuing people from fires and nearly drowning, for providing emergency medical treatment in cases of heart attack and attempted suicide. Firefighter Stephen Barlock received the department’s Award of Valor for his action last Christmas in rescuing a fellow firefighter who had been injured in a fire on Leland Avenue. Special recognition awards went to firefighter/paramedic Jason Hayes who, while off duty, helped a wheel-chair-bound person seeking treatment at a medical building and to Captain Marin Rafacz, who was able to get a suicidal, out-of-control resident safely to a hospital for help.

Actions by firefighters and by the members of the Community Emergency Response Team were honored for their actions during the power outages at the McGaw Y on the July 4 holiday last year, as what began as a fire in some ComEd equipment displaced the residents, who were given emergency shelter and food over the crisis period.

The Craig-Stiles Award – the department’s second-highest honor – went to two engine/ambulance companies that in separate incidents were able to administer emergency medical treatment and keep heart-attack victims alive until they reached a hospital. In each case, the hospital also commended their life-saving work.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said, “I’m here tonight to honor Evanston’s Fire Department for the outstanding, courageous and completely, utterly remarkable things you do every day.”

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...