Pinckneyville Fire Chief Jim Gielow is proud to have been able to serve the community as a firefighter for more than 30 years.
“I started as a volunteer back in 1985 and I've been active ever since,” Gielow told SW Illinois News. “I enjoy being able to help people. It's always nice when someone comes back to us to say thank you. There have been times that we have had a house fire and even though a family has lost most of their possessions, there still may be one item that was saved that has sentimental value. So sometimes it's the little things that make a difference. If someone is in need of the fire department, it can be one of their worse times. If we can try and do anything to make it a little better, we will.”
Gielow was appointed Pinckneyville Fire Department Chief in 2009. He previously served as a lieutenant and a captain.
Pinckneyville Fire Chief Jim Gielow
“I've ran on a lot of calls over the years,” he said. “It's a group effort of all the firefighters to be successful. We have had calls where we rescued people that were trapped in vehicles, quickly extinguish a fire to save property and other incidents. I have had to program weather radios, install smoke detectors and other tasks that may seem simple, but it means a lot to those that needed it.”
Prior to becoming a firefighter, Gielow was a volunteer with the town’s ambulance service.
“Being an EMT, I ran on some calls and had some interaction with the fire department,” Gielow said. “Some of the firefighters were EMTs also and helped with the ambulance service. Some of the firefighters said that if I liked running with the ambulance service that I probably would like the fire department, too. And being around different types of incidents I became more interested in serving the community and helping people.”
As part of his involvement with the fire department, Gielow partakes in a variety of community events.
“There is more to it than fighting fires,” he said. “Our department participates at our hospital's annual health fair, the Child Advocacy Center Family Fun Day, we are part of an event called Family Night in the Park. We teach fire prevention to school kids, give tours of the station and other activities throughout the year.”
Gielow was born in Red Bud and currently lives in Pinckneyville. After graduating from high school, he worked at a coal mine for several years. He went on to work for an agriculture seed company called Pioneer Hi-Bred for more than two decades before joining the City of Pinckneyville and Rural Fire Protection District.
While his spare time is scarce, Gielow enjoys relaxing when he does have it.
“With the administrative work, training, fire calls and other fire department activities, I stay busy,” he said.