On October 1, 2000, Captain Thomas G. Gotkowski of the Tinley Park Volunteer Fire Department suffered a fatal heart attack in the line of duty.
Captain Gotkowski and his engine company were assisting the police department with the ventilation of a condominium. Gotkowski became ill while he and other firefighters helped the police department ventilate a condominium in which a dead body had remained undiscovered for two weeks. Captain Gotkowski assisted with the placement of a ventilation fan and assisted with the repositioning and stacking of fans. Captain Gotkowski felt ill and was sitting on the back of an engine. He walked to a nearby ambulance where it was determined that he was experiencing a heart attack. Gotkowski was treated by paramedics on the scene, and he was transported to Palos Community Hospital, where he died in the emergency room.
This incident was the fifth call of the shift for Captain Gotkowski. According to the fire chief, Captain Gotkowski was the first line-of-duty death for the department since it was founded in 1901.
Funeral services for Gotkowski were held at St. Julie Billiart Catholic Church on October 4, and he was survived by his widow and three children.