Lincoln School second-grader Sabine Batza with Fire Chief Greg Klaiber

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Sabine is a second-grade student at Lincoln Elementary. She interviewed Chief Klaiber for her Evanston Project, selecting him as a person her classmates should know about in Evanston. The interview took place in Fire Station No. 2 at Custer and Madison.
Sabine is the daughter of RoundTable reporter Shawn Jones
Q: Where were you born?
A: I was born in New York, in Glen Cove, New York.
Q: When and how did you become the chief?
A: When was August of 2010. So it’s almost five years already – hard to believe.
How? When I became chief, I was deputy chief. The short answer to that is what’s called rising through the ranks. I started my career here, and I took every test I could to become a higher rank. So I became a fire captain, and then division chief, then deputy chief, and then chief. So I just worked my way up until I got promoted to chief.
Q: What school did you go to?
A: I went to Lincoln School. Then I went to Nichols. And then Evanston High School. Then to the University of Illinois. Then Northeastern. I got a master’s in cardiac rehab. That actually helps in this job – I didn’t know if it would help me in my career, but it has, from paramedic school on.
Q: Are you ever afraid of going into a fire?
A: Sure, yeah, yeah. Anybody who says they are not afraid or worried about going into a fire is not really telling the truth. It’s a dangerous profession. But you know how I overcome being afraid? Train. Train and prepare. We always train. We are always learning and training.
Q: Did you like sliding down poles and climbing ladders as a kid?
A: Yeah, yeah, I sure did. We have one here. You see it, right over there, over your shoulder. You see that one? [The Chief pointed to the station’s fire pole.]
Q: What is your favorite sport?
A: I would say right now it is golf. I love golf. I play as much as I can. But I like to run, too. For playing, it’s golf, but for watching, I would say hockey.
Q: How come you don’t have a dog at the station?
A: Well, they are hard to take care of, and we are not always here. So that’s kind of the tradition in the fire service that has come and gone. We don’t really do that anymore. Although I will say, we have one of our firefighters training a dog for special rescue operations, so this dog will be part of a nationwide team. Search and rescue… essentially for disasters, collapses. Natural disasters, so, houses that are destroyed, people trapped. This dog will be training to go in and look for people. It’s not really a Dalmatian dog, but it’s a dog that will, once it’s fully trained, it will be here, but it will be in a cage. These are highly trained dogs that are only used in search and rescue. It’s not like a Dalmatian you see riding on a fire truck.
Q: Any sisters or brothers?
A: Yes, I have a sister named Alison, and a brother named Jeff. They went to Lincoln School, too.
Q: How do you fight fires?
A: Fire engines [points out the fire engine in the station], they carry a lot of hose on them. So what we need to do is, when there is a fire at somebody’s house, we need to connect the hose to a fire hydrant. And then firefighters will take the fire hose that’s on the engine and bring the fire hose into the house and put the fire out with water. There are a lot of other things going on at the same time, but that’s essentially how we do it. First you have to connect to the fire hydrant to get the water, then take the fire hose to the fire, into the house to put out the fire… There are 1,300-plus fire hydrants in the City.
Q: Are you a daddy?
A: Yes, I am. I have three children. They went to Kingsley Elementary.