Firefighter Patty Schlick has
carried photos of her family in her helmet for the 20 years she has served on
the Lake Zurich Fire Department.
Every firefighter does the same thing, to carry their family close, she said.
Schlick said goodbye to her other family, her brothers on the fire department, Friday following a retirement walk through where she received the flag that flew above the fire station on her last day.
She was one of two female firefighters on the department. Firefighter Bonnie Weidner is also retiring this month and will received a walk through.
What Schlick will miss most is the camaraderie and her fire service family, she said Friday.
Firefighters presented Schlick with a replica of her badge, a silver ax and numerous certificates.
“I’ve worked with Patty her whole career. Can you believe I actually made it?,” joked Division Chief John Kelly.
Schlick gave a bit of advice to the younger firefighters just starting out. Don’t be afraid to do little things, like sit with the families after their loved ones have died, she said. “It’s the small things that matter,” she said.
Schlick thanked her family for understanding when she had to miss birthdays and barbecues, “I can assure you Irish Catholic families have a lot of barbecues,” she said.
Fire service has been part of her personal life for 20 years. She met her husband, Al, at the fire academy and their first date was “Backdraft.” The couple has two children.
The month of August has had Lake Zurich Fire Department saying goodbye to another firefighters, in a very different scenarios.
Earlier this month, Firefighter Danny Gonzalez died suddenly. Fellow firefighters and firefighters from surrounding departments did a walk through in honor of his service.
Schlick remembered Gonzalez, too. She was out running recently and began crying. A song, "Lean on Me", was playing on her earbuds. It’s her new theme song, she said.
“It has been an interesting career and I wouldn’t change it for anything,” she said.