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Worth salutes volunteer firefighters

Photo by Dermot Connolly

Alumni of the volunteer Worth Fire Department gather behind a banner during the dedication Sunday of a plaque honoring them, which will be installed at the North Palos Fire Protection Station 3, 7116 W. 111th St., in Worth.

 

Past and present Worth firefighters gathered on Sunday for the unveiling of a plaque honoring members of the Worth Volunteer Fire Department, which disbanded after 83 years when the Palos North Fire Protection District took over in 2009.

The plaque reading “Dedicated to the tremendous efforts of the countless men and women volunteers of the Worth Fire Department,” was scheduled to be installed this week on the brick exterior of the department’s former home, now North Palos Fire Protection District Station 3, 7116 W. 111th St. The ceremony was held there at 1 p.m. Sunday.

“It is a tribute to all the men and women who served the people of Worth. You will never be forgotten. We will never forget what you did. We are very grateful for your service,” said Worth Mayor Mary Werner.

While she spoke, Ed Palenik and Don Albright, both alumni of the Worth Fire Department, held up an alumni banner proclaiming “Proud to Serve” and “Protecting our Village.”

Palenik, a lifelong Worth resident, currently serves as a part-time firefighter in Evergreen Park. “We alumni came up with the idea for the plaque, just to show that the department was once here. We have a great relationship with North Palos, and both associations, the alumni and North Palos, worked together to get it done.”

“It is great that we could help. They are an important part of our history,” said North Palos Deputy Chief Paul Macklin.

The Worth Lions Club also assisted with the cost of the plaque.

“To be honored as an organization like this is really something,” said Albright, who said he enjoyed his time with the Worth Fire Department, which he joined in 1976. Like Palenik, he stayed until the end of 2008, when North Palos took over. They both worked as full-time firefighters for other departments while volunteering in Worth.

“I’ve never worked with a greater group of people,” said Ken Murphy, another alumnus of the volunteer department.

The Worth Fire Department was founded in 1925, as a volunteer department with William Little as the first fire chief. The original station was a carriage house on the southeast corner of 111st and Depot Street, before the department moved across the street to the current site in 1950. The building that now houses North Palos Station 3 originally also included the Worth Village Hall, Police Department and village library. It was renovated and added upon in 1995.

“Having North Palos take over was a win-win for everybody,” said Werner. She pointed out that the fire protection district absorbed all the Worth Fire Department staff, so no jobs were lost. Also, the larger fire protection district, which also serves Palos Hills and Hickory Hills, gave Worth firefighters access to better training and upgraded equipment.

“We were very fortunate. We now have three fire stations protecting us,” said Werner, who was not in office when the change was made.

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