Friday, July 18, 2014 || By Michael Romain
Fire Chief Bronaugh believes that increased community cohesion may come with reinstating residency requirements
MAYWOOD–At a monthly meeting of Neighbors of Maywood Community Organization (NOMCO), Maywood Fire Chief Craig Bronaugh spoke on a range of topics and fielded attendees’ questions. The meeting took place in the picturesque backyard of NOMCO member Loretta Brown.
Bronaugh divulged some personal history before moving onto more pressing matters. He was born in Chicago, at what was then called Stroger Hospital to be exact. He attended Garfield Elementary and Proviso East High School in Maywood. He wasn’t necessarily destined to become a firefighter. One of his first jobs was at a Little Caesars making pizzas. He worked on Saturdays from 3 PM to 2 AM, flipping dough while other kids his age were out creating fun. He did it for five years. The experience formed such an impression on him that to this day he cherishes his weekends off.
After pizza, he moved on to flipping patients in critical condition as an emergency tech for Capital Ambulance on the South Side. In 1994, he was hired by the Maywood Fire Department. He spent ten years riding ambulances before he was promoted to the riding the department’s big ladder trucks. On his way to captain, he became the department training officer. In 2010 or 2011, he said, he was promoted to captain of ship one before fully taking over soon afterward. Throughout his career evolution, though, Chief Bronaugh, a longtime Maywood resident, has been firmly planted in the community.
That’s something he wants to see more often with future firefighters. “We’ve got able-bodied people right here in Maywood who can be just as valuable and effective,” Bronaugh said. He believes that since the department’s residency rule has been lifted, there’s been less cohesion between the members of the department and the community they serve.
“I think it would be nice if our department were more community-oriented. We’re hoping to get back to that. At the very least, [future] members should be living in Proviso Township,” he said.
But the Chief noted that he understands and empathizes with members of his department who don’t live in Maywood, or the surrounding suburbs. He said that a major reason why many Village workers fled to greener pastures in the first place was the deteriorating condition of the schools in the area. However, he also noted that the deteriorating social conditions will only improve with more professionals moving into Maywood and pouring economic life into its tax base–which is why he supports gradually reinstating the residency requirement.
He said that more fire department members who live in Maywood would also translate into faster and more efficient emergency response. Referencing the increasingly chaotic weather events that have affected most of the country, in addition to possible disaster scenarios, he said that if members lived in the community, they would be within proximity to lend an immediate hand.
That theory was tested one day during a picnic his department had thrown in town. While he and his men were enjoying themselves, a fire broke out in a nearby apartment. A young woman had set a couch on fire and the blaze had spread throughout the building. While no one was injured, the fire proved to be a difficult lesson.
“The good thing about that day was that [we were all in town] and at the scene in minutes,” the Chief said. “With everyone living so spread out, we don’t have that same response.”
Bronaugh also addressed some NOMCO members’ concern about the fact that there is no fire station north of Lake Street.
“River Forest is our insurance,” he said, noting that fire trucks have been held up by passing freight trains numerous times.
In fact, some residents in north Maywood may be closer to River Forest’s station than to the one on St. Charles, he said. Nonetheless, he expressed support for a fire station being built north of Lake Street to mitigate that problem–even though it may be a very distant prospect. VFP
NOMCO regularly hosts extremely informative guest speakers at it’s monthly meetings, which are held every second Thursday of each month and are always FREE and open to the public. To request more information on the organization, please send any inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.