By Anne Eickstadt

SUBMITTED PHOTO Belvidere Republican
30-year firefighting veteran Craig Wilcox will be retiring on Sept. 11, ‘in honor of all those who didn’t make it out’ during the tragedy of Sept, 2011.


“My dad was a Capron firefighter,” said Lieutenant Craig Wilcox of the Belvidere Fire Dept. “We kids would go down and, when they came back from a fire, we would clean the rig. We would take down the hoses and clean them, too. We weren’t allowed to put anything back.

“I got hired by the Belvidere Fire Dept. a year and a half before my younger brother, Mark was hired at the DeKalb Fire Dept. I finally got to work with my brother four years ago on a grain bin rescue. He retired after 25 and a half years in DeKalb

“I will have been here 30 years on Sept. 5. My last day is 9-11 in honor of all those who didn’t make it out. Retired dispatcher Rosie White is coming back to do my final call.

“I used to wear my dad’s badge on my helmet. When I became a lieutenant, I left it on my old helmet and retired it. I keep it in my family room at home.

“The fun part of this job in helping the community is that when you come in to work, you never know what’s going to happen. Every call, every rescue, is different every time. You never know what’s coming your way. You’re flying by the seat of your pants. You’re trying to figure out everything on your way and you get a Plan A into place and have a Plan B ready to go. If you have to get to Plan G, you’ve already called for help. MABAS is online and it’s a great asset.

“My favorite engine was the 103. It ran all the time, never had computer issues, and the pump never failed.

“I’d rather be in the trenches than on the outside. I do the best I can for the guys.

“One time there were two of us, Firefighter Nick Thornton and I, in the basement fighting an awkwardly placed fire under the steps. I kept calling for an extra hose and they kept trying to answer me. My jacket had rucked up and the hose rubbed against my radio and turned the sound down so I could not hear anyone. When we finally backed out, I ran smack into Incident Commander Shawn Schadle who had thought we were dead because we did not answer their calls.

“Communication is a big safety issue at every fire. Knowing where all the guys are is essential. The one in charge on the outside should always have someone with him as an…

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