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.

Credit: Oak Forest Fire Department
Credit: Oak Forest Fire Department
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:
jack hess January 24, 2014 at 12:04 PM
Well TAX PAYERS OF OAK FOREST the question is now, is Chief Lipinski also on paid leave? If he is where is the money coming from to pay Mr. Wilcox?
b January 26, 2014 at 12:05 PM
The States Attorney's office has subpoenaed Oak Fest records for the entire time Mrs. Sopko was involved with it. The Oak Forest Fire Dept. records have also been subpoenaed looking into Mr. Sopkos employment history and all records pertaining to their house. Makes one wonder where all of this will lead to. I also am curious to the timing of Lipinski taking personal leave right before the fire dept. records are subpoenaed. Sopko gets paid for sitting on his as#, the chief is on paid leave, the interim chief gets paid, so glad to see Oak Forest has so much disposable income to cover all of this. Oh wait our water and garbage rates just went up as well as our property taxes. So to all you people who say it is not any of our business you are fooling yourselves if you think otherwise. What the hell is happening to our town?
jack hess January 26, 2014 at 01:37 PM
Lets see Sopko is on court order electronic monitoring. I guess his lawyer didn't object to this so Sopko wouldn't have to work . But on EM by law if Sopko lawyer could have requested the court to have his client continue working. But why would his lawyer do this when the City of Oak Forest is going to put you on paid leave. The City of Oak Forest is concerned about Sopko rights an labor laws. The City stated they don't want a lawsuit down the road from sopko. Well i guess as TAX PAYING CITIZENS OF OAK FOREST, WE WILL PAY FOR ALL THIS IN THE END!
b January 26, 2014 at 02:07 PM
Yes, we tax payers foot the bill again for the city's ineptitude. We are now paying THREE firemen and only ONE is doing any actual work. Way to go Oak Forest-- protect the corupt and screw the citizen. Always pull out the fear of a lawsuit because it is easier then doing what is right for the people and protects those in the inner circle.
jack hess January 27, 2014 at 08:13 PM
Remember the City has a history of misappropriating TAX PAYERS MONEY! Remember when newly elected Mayor Kelly had the huge City of Oak Forest sign demolished on 159th Cicero ave. The Mayor before Kelly had the sign put with TAX PAYERS MONEY (TIF) . Then Kelly who ran against Gordan an disliked him so much, she used TAX PAYERS MONEY TO DEMOLISHED THIS NEW SIGN. WE THE CITIZENS OF CITY OAK FOREST ARE SO SCREWED. I THINK THE CITIZENS SHOULD REQUEST THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO HELP US LOOK INTO CORRUPTION.


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