Lockport firefighter honored for starting rookie academy
By BRIAN STANLEY Bstanley@stmedianetwork.com October 28, 2012 3:54PM
Lt. Bill Piper has been named Lockport Township Firefighter of the Year as seen in Station 6 Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, at 19623 Renwick Rd. in Crest Hill. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 30, 2012 6:08AM
LOCKPORT TOWNSHIP — The rookies have earned some recognition for the veteran. And the chief made sure it was documented.
Lt. Bill Piper has been selected as the 2012 Firefighter of the Year by the Lockport Chamber of Commerce for establishing an in-house Rookie Firefighter Academy.
“New hires are already certified as paramedics and firefighters already so our academy begins with more of a skills evaluation,” Piper explained. “(Rookies) come from a lot of different programs so this sees what they’ve already practiced enough and where they might be a little green.”
The four-week, 160-hour program also focuses on firefighter safety and survival to protect themselves when battling a blaze.
Fire Chief Dave Skoryi was reluctant when Piper first proposed an in-house program until he was assured all the state standards could be met before they began.
“This would include prepared outlines — documentation. Qualified instructors — documentation. Proper training grounds — documentation ... and documentation, documentation, documentation,” Skoryi said.
Skoryi praised Piper for continuing to exceed his expectations and working with other local departments to use their training facilities at a savings to the district.
“(Piper) then pulled from the expertise of our own line officers to fill the instructor roles,” Skoryi said. “(He) even understood (for the program to be successful) that documentation was just as important as teaching the rookies what an ax is.”
Piper grew up in Lockport and has been a firefighter since 1990.
“I like the feeling that I’m helping people. It’s never the same thing every day and it’s a challenge,” Piper said.