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Grack retires from fire department; steps down from 8-year role as chief

After serving as Glencoe’s fire chief for nearly eight years, Ron Grack decided 2018 is the year to retire. Looking forward to retirement, for Grack, is a double-edged sword. He’s excited about the extra time he’ll get to spend with his family, friends, tent and fishing rod; however, he admitted that it’ll be strange to take no action when he hears sirens.
Grack’s election to chiefdom came at a time when both the former fire chief and the former assistant fire chief were retiring, so stepping into that position was taking an inordinate amount of responsibility. He plunged into the role without much prior knowledge of what it takes to be the fire chief.
“As a firefighter, you don’t realize what a chief does,” Grack said, “but you learn from every situation. Sometimes people call and you don’t know the answer, so you have to figure it out yourself.”
For Grack, it was time to answer the call: “It was time to step up to see if I can do it.” His most significant challenge came where he was expecting — running the department. He knew being a firefighter was a substantial time commitment in itself; ascending to fire chief was undoubtedly going to bolster that sentiment.
In overcoming a massive, mostly unfamiliar workload, Grack said, “You just have to do it and run the scene and make it work.” There isn’t always a standard checklist of procedures to follow to ensure firefighter safety, fire mitigation or standard day-to-day operating. When it comes to dousing a fire safely, there are a lot of complicated, subjective decisions to be made, and those decisions would usually fall on Grack’s shoulders.
“It’s your job to deal with it,” Grack bluntly stated in response to asking how he dealt with the pressure. His answer was twofold: not only do the firefighters have to cope with the taxing physical demands on the site, but it’s also common to have traumatic emotional responses during or after their bouts with fires and other emergencies. Add the shot-calling duties of a fire chief, and the real-time decision making intensifies immensely.
For about Grack's career in the fire service, see the April 11 print edition of The Chronicle.