Bartlett Fire Protection District Chief Michael Falese has a motto.
"All people can be great because all people have an opportunity to serve," Falese says.
His service to Bartlett earned him one of the state's highest honors in firefighting.
Falese has been named the 2014 Fire Chief of the Year by the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association.
"This recognition has my name on it, but more importantly it also has Bartlett and Bartlett Fire on it, and that is really powerful," Falese said during a gathering celebrating the award.
Trustees, firefighters and paramedics gave him two standing ovations during a brief speech at a village board meeting this week.
"It's very, very humbling," he said.
Mayor Kevin Wallace noted Falese's one-year tenure as president of the state association and his fiscal management when the district came in under budget with a $2.4 million renovation of its busiest fire station.
As Falese left the podium, Trustee Greg Martin asked how long he had been a firefighter.
"How much gray hair do I have?" Falese quipped.
And then he told the board he joined his first department in 1981.
"Thank you for every year," Martin said.