Like many officers in the Chicago Fire Department, Lieutenant Steve Serb lends support to short-handed stations whenever they need it.
We caught up with him at Engine Co. 13 on N. Columbus Dr. just as his wife, Susan, and their children, six-year-old Eamonn and six-month-old Elizabeth, stopped by to visit on their way to a costume party.
“Years ago, this was a lot of office space,” he says. “Now it’s a neighborhood where people live and eat and go to the park.”
The CFD, according to Lt. Serb, helped the area make that transition. “A fire house is where people can come together and meet and talk,” he explains. “We love the community.”
His role as a father helps him work towards the goals of the department.
“There are a lot of paralells between being a fire fighter and being a dad,” he says. “When you’re dealing with emergency calls, it doesn’t matter how bad the situation is, it’s the worst day for the people who called.”
Although many of the calls turn out to be issues of simple household maintenance — “really, what we are is the problem department,” he jokes — the severity, or lack thereof, does not affect the service that the CFD provides.
“I’ve been called out for plumbing problems, for water leaks in someone’s house, steam leaks from a radiator,” he continues. “Not really our stuff, but that person is having a bad day because they don’t know how to fix it. We are calm about finding a solution.”
Of course, when it comes to the actual emergencies that Lt. Serb refers to as “our stuff,” he doesn’t hesitate to explain that “it takes a lot of faith to crawl into a flaming building.”
Then, just as quickly, the 15-year veteran modestly insists that his job is not that much different from anyone other hardworking person’s.
“You can help people in any profession,” he says. “We all contribute and help as much as possible because we are human beings.”
“The help that I provide people — I don’t think it’s any greater, but it’s more dramatic.”
Daniel Patton | Staff Writer