Oak Park to dedicate fire truck to Patrick Luby

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Oak Park is reversing course and dedicating one of its fire engines to Patrick Luby, a 43-year-old lieutenant who died while battling a basement fire in July 1992.

A couple of people, including his widow, suggested that the village dedicate one of its new engines to Luby, as other places such as the City of Chicago have done in the past. But the village declined, saying that it didn’t typically memorialize engines. Plus, Oak Park’s main firehouse is already dedicated to Luby.

However, the fire department changed its mind, and will dedicate Engine 602 in his memory, according to Lt. Tom Blecha, president of the local firefighters union. Blecha said he recently spoke with Chief Thomas Ebsen, who said he had no problem with Oak Park dedicating its three engines to each of the three firefighters who have died on the job while serving the village.

Blecha strongly defended Ebsen against recent Web comments and letters to the editor.

“Tom Ebsen is definitely a good man. You look at how he’s been characterized in some of the responses, and that couldn’t be any further from the truth,” said Blecha, a more than 20-year veteran of the department.

Oak Park will likely emblazon its engines with some sort of decal or gold leaf stripes to honor the three firefighters. Blecha was unsure when that might happen, but he hopes the village can hold a coinciding ceremony.

The fire department is hosting a fundraiser on Sept. 11, with the proceeds benefiting the Patrick Luby Foundation.

Reader Comments

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shirley lieb from chicago  

Posted: August 2nd, 2011 7:42 PM

It is good news that the truck is being dedicated to the fallen heroes, but the decision should have come a little easier. And some of the people who commented lived in Oak Park for 28 years.

epic lulz  

Posted: August 2nd, 2011 6:24 PM

Agreed. It's a sad and pathetic that so many people from outside the community felt a need to come onto this forum to bash our fire chief. I'm sure that I speak for the vast majority of Oak Parkers when I say that we stand behind our Fire Department and our Chief.

Editor from Oak Park  

Posted: August 2nd, 2011 4:15 PM

I know Chief Ebsen, and he is a very caring man, and I was fine with whatever his decision was, and I think it's very nice that the 3 men will be honored beyond what has already be done, to honor these men.

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