Dwight Remembers Remarkable Fire Chief
Chief Steve Riccolo, better known as Boots, passed away Jan. 16.
Steve Riccolo got the nickname Boots long before he wore a fire uniform.
"When he was a young child, somebody bought him a pair of cowboy boots and he would not take those off," Dwight Fire Chief Darrin Shull said.
But even though the nickname did not come from the fire service, he dedicated his life to the career - one that spanned 61 years. Riccolo passed away Jan. 16 from congestive heart failure. He was 84 years old.
"He was completely my mentor," Shull said.
Riccolo began his career in the fire services in 1951.
"He had not retired," Shull said.
And while there is no doubt that Riccolo dedicated himself to his trade, what most people remember him for is just being a good man. In addition to being in the fire service, Riccolo owned his own plumbing business.
Shull recounts his favorite Riccolo story. He got a call from an older woman in town whose hot water heater had broken. Riccolo gave her the bad news that the water heater had to be replaced. Unfazed, the woman told Riccolo that was no problem as she had saved up some money. She said she had $125.
But, the new water heater was just under $500. The woman never knew that.
"Boots paid the $489 plus tax for the new water heater," Shull said.
Then, he would take only $75 from the woman.
"There are thousands upon thousands of those same stories," Shull said.
The services for Riccolo have passed, but the fire district plans to honor him with a memorial outside the firehouse, 11 S. Prairie Ave., Dwight.