Hundreds of first responders joined Crete Fire Chief James JP Muirhead for the last time on Tuesday morning. The 54-year-old Crete Fire Chief passed away on the morning of October 5th following an unexpected and serious medical condition.
It was just a little over a year ago that Chief Muirhead was sworn in as the new Crete Fire Chief, replacing retiring Fire Chief Michael Waterman.
“I’m looking forward to Crete. It has a great reputation,” Chief Muirhead said after being sworn in at the July 11, 2022 Village Board Meeting.
Chief Muirhead started his career 34 years ago at the Matteson Fire Department as a paid-on-call. He spent eleven years at Crete Township Fire Protection District, attaining the rank of lieutenant, and later served as deputy chief at Riverdale Fire Department. And when Crete was in need of a new fire chief, Chief Muirhead answered the call.
“I’ve known JP for a long time. He’s a quality guy,” Crete Mayor, Michael Einhorn, said at the time.
During his tenure at the Crete Fire Department, Chief Muirhead was known for his unwavering commitment to the safety and well-being of the Crete community and his fellow firefighters.
“I know a lot of the guys here. They are great guys. I look forward to working with them,” Chief Muirhead said after the Board Meeting.
He was also instrumental in the recruitment and training of new personnel, and his leadership, kindness, and good humor earned him admiration and respect from those around him.
“The biggest thing I’m hoping to do is to keep things safe because that is of the utmost importance: safety,” Chief Muirhead said.
His impact on the community was evident when more than 50 departments came to pay their respects to Chief Muirhead at the Crete Funeral Home on October 9. Matteson Fire Chief, Michael Bacon, said this about his friend and former colleague:
“Chief Muirhead’s commitment to the fire service was unmatched. He dedicated his life to protecting and serving others. His leadership and professionalism inspired all who had the pleasure of working alongside him.”
A memorial service was held for Chief Muirhead on the morning of October 10, with a procession of fire apparatus starting from Crete Church, going to Crete Fire Station 1 on Exchange Street, and ending with the ringing of the bell. In the words of Chief Bacon:
“The legacy of Chief James “JP” Muirhead will forever live on in our memories. His selfless dedication and unwavering commitment to keeping our communities safe will never be forgotten.”