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Local

Community members offered chance to weigh in on ‘Big John’ replacement

DeKalb firefighter Noah Millard drives the new ladder truck out of the bay Feb. 5 at DeKalb Fire Station 1.
DeKalb firefighter Noah Millard drives the new ladder truck out of the bay Feb. 5 at DeKalb Fire Station 1.

DeKALB – Fire department officials are holding a communitywide contest to name their new ladder truck and have selected three options for the public to vote on. 

The department bought the replacement ladder truck for $420,000 last year.

Northern Illinois University contributed $275,000 as part of its fire service agreement with the city.

Fire officials have been training on the new ride, and it will hit the streets around the beginning of May, after the name is revealed.  

“Fire departments throughout the county do these sorts of things,” said Pat Erikson, DeKalb firefighter/paramedic and public relations coordinator. “We wanted to continue that tradition in DeKalb. … We wanted to make the community as much a part of the tradition as we are.”

The three concepts the department have chosen are “ ‘RIP’ Roaring,” “Spirit of DeKalb” and “The Baron.” 

The first concept is dedicated to former Fire Chief Albert “RIP” Riippi.

Riippi grew up in DeKalb and played football with Northern Illinois University.

He later went on to serve in World War II and also played football with the Aurora Clippers and Green Bay Packers.

He returned to the fire department in 1959 and retired as chief in 1986, according to fire department documents. 

“Spirit of DeKalb” is meant to incorporate the entire community and what DeKalb stands for, Erikson said. 

“The spirit of DeKalb is not just a phrase,” he wrote on the concept plan. “It’s a philosophy that embodies the members of the community and all the members of the DeKalb Fire Department.”

“The Baron” is dedicated to the city’s namesake Baron de Kalb, a French military officer and major general who served in the Continental Army during the revolutionary war. 

Community members can vote on the city’s website at cityofdekalb.com. Voting is open through April 18.

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