Hinsdale man exchanges garbage truck for fire truck
Hinsdale Fire Capt. John Giannelli with his mother, Judy Giannelli of LaGrange Park, and his mother-in-law, Carol Andalina of Naperville. | Kimberly Fornek—Sun-Times Media
Graduated from Lyons Township High School in 1984
Associate of Arts degree from College of DuPage
Bachelor of Fire Science from Southern Illinois University
Updated: November 12, 2012 1:29AM
HINSDALE — John Giannelli wanted to be a garbage man when he was little.
“He always wanted to ride on the back of the truck,” said his mother, Judy Giannelli of LaGrange Park, where John grew up.
He found a more challenging career, but one that still gives him the chance to ride on the back of a truck. Only it’s a fire truck.
Giannelli was promoted from a lieutenant with the Hinsdale Fire Department to captain. He also is the department’s official training officer.
His family, including his mother, his wife, Carla, her mother and the Giannelli’s three children attended his swearing in ceremony at the Hinsdale Village Board meeting.
Giannelli may have envied the garbage collectors riding through the neighborhood, but when he was 18, he started working as a paid-on call firefighter with the LaGrange Park Fire Department. He knew then that’s how he wanted to earn his livelihood.
“It’s a good career,” Giannelli said. “The hours are great, and so are the benefits and the camaraderie.”
Giannelli, who became a Hinsdale firefighter in 1991, has received two unit citations for Acts of Valor. Several years ago, when storms flooded Hinsdale, a man was trapped in his below ground garage.
“He was pinned to the ceiling. The car was actually floating,” said Giannelli, who was one of a team of firefighters who rescued the man.
“We busted down the garage door and he came floating out.”
His second citation came about five years ago, when firefighters responded to a house fire on Ninth Street. The floor collapsed under one firefighter, who had to be helped out of the building.
“It wasn’t just me, it was a bunch of guys,” Giannelli said.
Not all the calls are for dramatic situations, of course. But through mutual aid agreements, Hinsdale firefighters respond to emergencies in neighboring communities, too, such as Clarendon Hills, Western Springs and the Pleasantview Fire Protection District.
“If it doesn’t happen here, it happens someplace else,” Giannelli said.