By Todd Travis
In the wake of the recent passing of Lt. Steven W. Dillman, many fond memories are triggered by Jeremy Pell, fire chief at White River Township Fire Department.
“Steve was a remarkable man and icon in the fire service. He had cancer three times and worked with the Indianapolis Fire Department educating them on cancer awareness. Firefighters have a higher risk of cancer due to our exposure to hazardous chemicals,” Pell explained.
An epitome of a firefighter
“I knew him personally, and he is the epitome of a firefighter. He was very good at the job, and he held the values of what we do extremely close to his heart. He was the kindest man that you could ever imagine. If you could just think of that older, wiser mentor that you could go to anytime, day or night with a struggle – he would be able to help you because he would have gone through it. He understood the importance of fire service and the honor of what we do. He was extremely humble. He was just an amazing man,” Pell continued.
Dillman made a big impact not only for on the fire department but to anyone who was lucky enough to be around him. Because of his passion for mentoring young firefighters, he taught classes on how to interview well in the hiring process for firefighters.
A servant’s heart
“It takes a unique individual with a servant’s heart to do what we do, in all of public safety. These are people who say, ‘I know it’s dangerous and I may not come home today, but what I’m serving is greater than just me.’ Steve lived that through his entire career and set an excellent example for all of us from the newest firefighter to the most experienced fire chief,” Pell shared.
“I would always tell Steve, ‘If Lt. Steve Dillman is telling me something, I’m going to stop what I’m doing and listen to every single word.’ And that’s coming from a fire chief. I felt so strongly about his character and his experience and his wisdom on the job that rank didn’t matter,” Pell emphasized.
In memory of a community icon
Dillman was on the docket to be Center Grove’s upcoming ICON of the Month before he passed. As an honor to him, the spot will not be filled this month. Below is Dillman’s obituary:
Steven Wayne Dillman, age 78, passed away on Oct. 4, 2022, surrounded by family.
He was appointed to the Indianapolis Fire Department on April 10, 1968, after first serving in the United States Naval Reserves.
He spent his first day assigned to Engine 19 C shift, before becoming regularly assigned to Chemical 13 C shift on Jan. 1, 1970.
Steve moved to Snorkel 13 C shift on Feb. 17, 1971, then over to Engine 13 C shift on March 10, 1972.
He transferred to Engine 03 C shift on Feb. 22, 1973, then left to become an Arson Investigator on March 1, 1976. Steve moved next to Engine 11 B shift on Feb. 15, 1980. over to Engine 03 B shift on May 5, 1980, then back to Engine 11 B shift on Sept. 5, 1980.
He was promoted to lieutenant on Jan. 23, 1986, and became the officer on Rescue 29 B shift on Feb. 9, 1986.
Steve made his last transfer to Engine 27 C shift on Sept. 27, 1987, before retiring from there on Dec. 10, 2005.
He enjoyed classic cars and was often at a track participating in drag racing competitions when not at the fire station working. Steve was a member of the Firefighter’s Cancer Support Network and the Retired Firefighters Club attending breakfasts and lunches at the union hall. He was also member of the Emerald Society and continued to attend many IFD banquets even after retirement.
Steve used his experience to proudly serve on the White River Township Fire Department District Board from 2015 until the time of his death.
Over the last 15 years, Steve has mentored countless young adults working to become firefighters.