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Captain Phil Myers is retiring from the Park Forest Fire Department after serving for roughly three decades.
Myers was recognized during Monday night's Board meeting with a retirement resolution honoring his 30 years of service with the department. His last day will be this Friday, July 21.
Myers, whose father was a firefighter and introduced him to the profession, began his fire service journey in 1982 as a Sauk Village Fire Department cadet.
He started his full-time career with the Park Forest Fire Department in 1993.
Myers attended Prairie State College in 1994, earning an associate degree in fire science. He continued his education at Southern Illinois University in 2002 and earned a bachelor's in fire science management.
Over the years, he has obtained numerous Illinois State Fire Marshall certifications and was a Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS 27) hazardous materials rescue team member.
Myers was a team leader of the hazmat team for numerous years before becoming a founding member of a local Technical Rescue Team.
Deputy Fire Chief Mark Cotrano said Myers has left an everlasting impact on the Park Forest Fire Department.
"Myers has had a distinguished career with the Park Forest Fire Department, rising through the ranks from firefighter to lieutenant and finally to captain," Cotrano said. "He was a Prairie State College and Blue Card Command instructor and taught fire science classes throughout the local area. Captain Myers has dramatically impacted our fire department and our local area."
Myers says he has many fond memories of his career in the fire service. He said one of the most impactful things he did was teaching young Park Foresters about fire prevention.
"My most memorable moments with the fire department would have been the opportunities to teach fire prevention to the children of Park Forest." Captain Myers said. "To see the excitement on a child's face the first time they get to touch the big fire truck or to see a firefighter up close with all his gear on will remain with me forever."
Myers added, "And for me, there was no better feeling when a child you just finished talking to about fire safety wants to shake your hand or hug you just because you are a firefighter."
Myers says the last eight years as the fire prevention officer has been the most impactful. He said no other job in the fire department is responsible for helping people before the crisis.
"The biggest impact in fire safety since the smoke detector is residential fire sprinklers," Myers said. "It is the single most effective way of saving lives from fire. And to work in a town that embraced fire safety and was one of the first towns in Illinois to adopt an ordinance requiring residential fire sprinklers makes me very proud."
As Myers looks to close the chapter on his career in the fire service, he urges younger firefighters to always learn something new.
"I encourage everyone that is just starting their career as a firefighter to always strive to be better," Myers said. "Don't pass up on any opportunity to learn something. The fire service has a vast field of specialties. Throughout my career, I took every advantage of attending school and learning a new specialty. During my time I specialized in hazardous materials, fire investigation, technical rescue, and finally, fire prevention."
The Park Forest Fire Department is hosting an open house retirement party from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. to celebrate the career of Myers.