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Oak Forest Names Interim Fire Department Chief (Updated)

Robert Wilcox Jr., a former chief in Park Forest, will fill in for Chief Terry Lipinski, who will be on personal leave for about four weeks.

Oak Forest Names Interim Fire Department Chief (Updated)
UPDATED (2:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23): A city spokeswoman would not say why Chief Terry Lipinski is taking personal leave at this time. 

A 30-plus-year veteran of Chicago area fire departments has been named the interim chief for the  Oak Forest Fire Department, according to a city press release.

Robert Wilcox Jr. will be taking over the department's day-to-day operations while Chief Terry Lipinski is on personal leave for about four weeks, the release stated. No reason was given for Lipinski's leave.

READ:  Oak Forest Fire Deputy Chief, Wife Arrested for Alleged Embezzlement

Standard department protocol is for the deputy chief to fill in while the chief is on leave. But Oak Forest's deputy chief, Charles Sopko, is on paid administrative leave while an internal city investigation is being conducted after Sopko and his wife, Michelle, were accused of embezzling more than $350,000 from the Palos Heights Fire District.

“The City Council felt strongly that we needed an experienced leader to keep things running smoothly until Terry returns," City Administrator Troy Ishler stated in the release. "Bob came highly recommended and has jumped right in getting to know the personnel on each shift and attending meetings.” 

Wilcox recently served as the Park Forest Fire Department chief and has been a chief in the Matteson and Highwood fire departments, the release stated. He also is a member of the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association’s Responder Interim Fire Chief Program, the release added. 

Patch will continue to update this story.

Read More on the Sopkos Case:

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