From firefighter to fraternity member, Tony Gallo perfects college balance

Aa firefighter, member of Alpha Chi Rho fraternity and Habitat for Humanity volunteer, Tony Gallo seems to do it all. Gallo, junior in AHS, is currently studying community health and is a native of Gurnee, Ill. Gallo comes from a family of firefighters, and he began riding along with his father, also a fireman, since age 10. His interest in firefighting quickly sparked during his childhood after watching his father serve the community.  

At the age 17, he was able to start helping around the Gurnee Fire Department station and often worked 24-hour shifts with his father. He started official training in February at the Carroll Fire Department in Urbana, Ill.; however, he does not feel new to the job after being around fire stations for most of his life.  

“I am now a fourth-generation firefighter, so I figured I couldn’t be the one to end the streak,” Gallo said.

As a probationary firefighter at the Carroll Fire Protection District, a volunteer department, Gallo works part time. Probationary firefighters at the station go over a variety of training, including ladder training, equipment training and the proper way to handle a fire, according to Lieutenant Jeremy Hoffman, training officer at the Carroll Fire Department. The station’s staff consists of 14 volunteer firefighters and six non-firefighting volunteers. 

“Tony has a very solid work ethic,” Hoffman said. “He has a lot of the characteristics that fire department guys look for in people who like to be part of a brotherhood and work together and accomplish their goals.”

Although he has only been on the job for a few months, he said it has been a very rewarding position. Gallo said knowing that people rely on him in their time of need is a very humbling experience. Being able to make a positive difference in someone’s day is one of the many reasons he enjoys his line of work.

His fellow fraternity brothers  in Alpha Chi Rho agree that he has found his calling. Brandon Holland, junior in Engineering and member of Gallo’s fraternity, said there is no better career than firefighting for him. He said Gallo has a genuine commitment to improving the lives of people. 

Gallo said he believes balancing school, his fraternity and firefighting is dependent on time management. Although he considers himself “lame” during the week, he tries to finish as much school work and training as possible so he can better enjoy the weekends. While he first thought his free time would be non-existent, Gallo said he has a great deal more of leisure time than he expected. He sets one day aside for training, other days for work and then spends the rest of his time enjoying a regular college experience.

“I always make time for Joe’s burgers on Saturday!” Gallo said.

Aside from his life as a firefighter, Gallo is also a very active member in his fraternity. He currently serves on the executive board of Alpha Chi Rho as an overseer of the brotherhood, plans events for fellow members and serves as a role model to his brothers, according to Kenny Miller, brother of Gallo’s fraternity and sophomore in LAS. 

“We like to call him our bleeding heart because he always is great with his responsibilities with his position. He is our officer at large, which is basically our fraternity mediator. He is there as a crying shoulder, he is there as a enforcer and he is there as a confidant for everyone,” Miller said.

His college extracurriculars are not the only thing that encompass his time. Gallo also enjoys volunteer work and actively participated in Habitat for Humanity for a year.

As for future plans, Gallo is looking to find any job related to firefighting or EMT work. Although he would like to move home to work after school, he said as a die-hard Illini fan and with Illini basketball on the upswing, he may need to hang around in Champaign after graduation.

Christen and Declan can be reached at [email protected]