LYNWOOD | As trick-or-treaters march around the village Wednesday in search of candy, Fire Chief Rich Eriks will be wrapping up a 37-year firefighting career.
Eriks is retiring, and Wednesday will be his last day on the job with the department where he has been chief for the past 29 years.
He told The Times on Monday that he thinks he is leaving the department in good shape to carry on without him.
“We have a good deputy chief and an assistant chief. It has good firefighters,” Eriks said. “I think the Fire Department is in good shape, which is why I think it is time for me to go.”
Agreeing was Village President Eugene Williams, who said that while Eriks will be missed, he doesn’t see picking the chief’s replacement as an urgent issue for the department.
“I haven’t decided what to do yet. There are several options, and we will look at all of them,” Williams said. “We have time to do this right.”
Eriks said he has no definite plans for his life after firefighting.
“I’m going to do something else. I don’t know yet what it will be, but I will find something to do,” he said.
Eriks said whatever his next stop is, he doubts it will be connected to the Lynwood Fire Department.
“I’m willing to help out if they think they can use me, but I’m not going to be one of those guys who hangs around after I leave,” he said.
Eriks pointed out how the types of tasks that fire departments are asked to deal with have expanded throughout the years, without the public truly realizing what is at stake.
“A lot of people really have no idea just how much the fire department does,” Eriks said. “For so many issues, when people have a problem they instinctively call the fire department.”
Eriks said his memories will center on the people he worked with.
“There were a lot of good people,” he said. “I’m glad I got the chance to know them and have them in my life.”
And Eriks said he has no regrets that he spent the bulk of his life in the firefighting trade.
“It has been fun,” he said.