Joliet Fire Chief Blaskey retiring

Blaskey term marked by achievements aided by incoming Chief Jeff Carey

Joliet Fire Chief Greg Blaskey is retiring, and his replacement already has been selected.

Blaskey’s pending retirement was announced at the Joliet City Council meeting Tuesday by City Manager James Capparelli.

Capparelli told the council that he has promoted Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Carey to replace Blaskey.

Joliet Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Carey speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, July 12, 2022 for the new Thriveworks mental health clinic in Joliet.

Blaskey’s departure date was not announced, but Capparelli said he has submitted his papers for retirement.

“I hate to see Chief Blaskey go,” Capparelli said.

Blaskey has been fire chief for less than three years. He replaced Joseph Formhals, who retired in November 2019.

But Blaskey has been with the Joliet Fire Department for 35 years, having previously served as deputy chief and deputy director of the Joliet Emergency Management Agency. He was named deputy chief in 2017.

The promotion of Carey follows a steady pattern of hiring fire chiefs from within the department, although past transitions had been prompted by controversial circumstances.

Formhals became fire chief in 2008, with a reputation as a family man when he replaced Rick Marose. Marose took sudden retirement after 10 months on the job after a Joliet police officer found him with a woman in a parked car in a private parking lot late at night. Marose, at the time, said he had planned to retire when he took the job once he reached the age of 50.

He was the third fire chief since Joseph Drick took a buyout in 2004 two days before he was indicted in a financial scheme involving an elderly neighbor.

Drick became chief in 1998 after Larry Walsh left amid a probe into his son’s business dealings with the city.

The scandals and controversies ended when Formals became chief. Blaskey’s time as chief has been marked by accomplishments in which Carey played a major role.

Carey headed up the COVID-19 vaccination clinic that the fire department set up at Joliet West High School. The clinic was staffed by volunteers from the fire department that stepped up to create a program for vaccinations before they were readily available.

Carey also was a leader in the development of a mental health initiative launched this summer with Thriveworks, a private health care provider, with the goal of providing mental health care to residents on a more timely basis than was previously available.

Capparelli said Carey “is going to be a fine replacement for Chief Blaskey.”