Ex-Riviera Fire Chief F. Sulkowski
By Jennifer Sorentrue

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Frank Sulkowski, the man who turned Riviera Beach's tiny fire department into one of the largest in Palm Beach County, died Friday. He was 77.

During a 30-year career that began in the 1960s, Mr. Sulkowski transformed a department that used converted Army trucks and had $88-a-week paychecks. He hired the department's first black firefighter and added its first paramedic team.

"There was a lot that happened over those 30 years," said his daughter, Diana Sulkowski. "He brought the paramedics system in. He went through the riots of the '60s. He saved several people."

Mr. Sulkowski was known as a "working chief" because he actively fought fires throughout the majority of his career.

He retired in 1990 and moved to Hobe Sound with his wife, Ruby.

The Hillside, N.J., native came to the area in the 1950s as a pitcher for the Florida International League, which played in Florida and Cuba and other Caribbean countries.

Mr. Sulkowski, a World War II veteran, was a volunteer with the fire department until he was hired in the 1960s. He was the department's first paid fire chief, Diana Sulkowski said.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Sulkowski is survived by a son, Frank; a daughter, Trish; and three grandchildren.

Services will be held Tuesday at the William N. Howard Funeral Home, 754 U.S. 1 in North Palm Beach. A funeral will take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Christopher Catholic Church, 12001 Federal Highway, Hobe Sound.