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Hinsdale Fire Department Captain Retires After 26 Years of Service

Capt. Bill O'Rourke always thought about what was best for the residents he assisted, Chief Rick Ronovsky said.

Capt. Bill O'Rourke of the made being a firefighter sound simple.

"People are calling you on their worst day and you're trying to help make it better," he said.

O'Rourke helped his last Hinsdale callers Tuesday.

The 56-year-old captain worked his last shift on Aug. 14 after 26 years in the Hinsdale department. Before coming to Hinsdale, he worked as a firefighter in Riverdale and Harvey and, all told, he's retiring with more than 30 years of experience.

"I've worked with a lot of great people," O'Rourke said after returning from a false-alarm call in the middle of his retirement breakfast Tuesday morning at the firehouse.

O'Rourke's retirement comes as two promotions and a new hire fill in the spaces left after the departure of Chief Mike Kelly earlier this year and the appointment of Rick Ronovsky, a former captain, as Kelly's replacement.

The retirement will trigger another set of promotions, but O'Rourke's replacement as captain has not yet been announced.

Listening to Ronovsky talk about O'Rourke, it's apparent the captain will be missed.

"No matter what the situation is, he's right there in the middle, thinking about what's best for the resident," said Ronovsky, whose first day in Hinsdale came three months after O'Rourke's in 1986. "You knew when Bill was there that everyone's best interests were at heart and that everything would run smoothly."

When asked what he'll remember most from his years in Hinsdale, O'Rourke said it'll mostly be the people, but of course there are calls that will stick with him, though he chose not to single them out.

"There were certainly some big calls, some big fires, some fatal fires," he said. "You'll never get those out of your mind." 

O'Rourke, a husband and father who lives in Downers Grove, isn't done working. He says he plans on working some construction and maybe becoming a fire-rescue trainer.

The captain received a standing ovation at Tuesday night's Board of Trustees meeting after Ronovsky announced that he was retiring.

Richard Circo August 16, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Bill, it is hard to write with a tear in my eye. WE saved MANY lives together! Your expert work on a roof showed me how to be a kick ass Truck man. Your compasion showed me how to be a good person (and medic), your inner strenght showed me how to be a good father and a good man. I envy the time you will be able to spend with your amazing wife, Steph. Miss you, Rich Circo
Ed Balcer August 16, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Bill, Hopefully you remember me from back in Riverdale. I was impressed by you back then and wish you the best now that you have moved on. We had some good times in Riverdale back in the day too. Lt./PM Ed Balcer De Pere WI
Bill O'Rourke August 18, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Thanks Rich, Comments like that from someone I always considered "One of the Best" means a lot. Always proud to have worked with you Rich.
Bill O'Rourke August 18, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Hey Ed! Glad to see you stayed in the business. Congrats on the Lt. position. Riverdale was a good time with a bunch of great guys!

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