Well-wishers honor former Elmwood Park fire chief
Former Fire Chief Mike Marino smiles as his wife Cindy and son Michael are introduced. Marino was honored with a banquet and reception in his honor Friday as he retired after 35 years of service. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 23, 2012 6:23AM
ELMWOOD PARK — With only a few weeks of retirement under his belt, former Elmwood Park Fire Chief Mike Marino gathered with colleagues and friends to celebrate his tenure.
They came together the evening of Nov. 16 at Elmcrest Banquets in Elmwood Park to thank Marino for his hard work and dedication as a firefighter and fire chief.
Marino has been a firefighter for 35 years. He started with the Elmwood Park Fire Department in 1977 and became chief in 2003, working his way up the ranks.
His last official day was Nov. 9. He’s since made it a priority to stay busy and stay away from the fire department for a while.
“You got to stay busy or you’ll go nuts and I’m finding that out real quick,” he said.
“I think I worked long enough,” he said. “It’s time to let someone else come in there and come up with some fresh ideas.”
Mike Ventura, former deputy fire chief for the Elmwood Park Fire Department, is the department’s new chief. He said Marino first introduced him to what being a firefighter was about. He now has some big shoes to fill.
“Our relationship was very special,” he said. “We worked very well together. He was just a very, very passionate person. I learned a lot from him and I’m confident that I can do it.”
“I’m very excited about the opportunity. Right now our department is doing well,” he added.
Marino said the Nov. 16 gathering came as a surprise, and although he received praise, all he ever wanted to do was be a good firefighter.
“I’m proud of the fact that we really didn’t have any big crazy incidents,” he said. “We held the fort down. We had some house fires and traffic crashes, but nothing too serious.”
“I’m proud of the way that the guys were trained,” he said. “I feel the fire department has been left in good hands. I’m proud of Mike and I’m proud of the guys.”
Still, he will miss a few things.
“I enjoy going on calls,” he said. “I’m going to miss the action and the guys. I never minded getting up in the middle of the night. Even in a little town, there’s excitement.”
But on the day he retired, he turned off the home radio he used for fire emergencies for good.
“There’s a new boss and I’m going to let him run it,” he said.