Longtime Morris fire chief to retire
By Sarwat S. Ahmad For The Herald-News June 15, 2012 1:12PM
LIZ WILKINSON ALLEN/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER. 5/25/10 Morris fire chief Robert Coleman talks to fire chaplain Rev. Steve Larson as area fire department dive teams and police look for the body of 13-year-old James Robert Woody, of Morris, in the Illinois River in Stratton Park in Morris on Tuesday morning. Woody went into the river to retrieve a ball while playing with friends in the park on Monday evening. Rescue workers were unable to locate him overnight, but divers found his body on Tuesday morning in the water. Bristol Kendall fire chief Michael Hitzemann stands at left.
Updated: July 19, 2012 6:08AM
MORRIS — After 52 years of service, Morris Fire Chief Robert Coleman has decided to retire.
“My age is the No. 1 reason (I’m retiring),” said the 74-year-old Coleman. “I don’t want to get hurt and I don’t want anyone else to get hurt. It’s really a young man’s game.”
Coleman said that he has “loved every minute” of his 52 years with the fire department — 35 of those have been as the fire chief. He’s chosen every one of the city’s current 50 firefighters.
Tracey Steffes, one of Coleman’s deputy chiefs, will take over his position effective July 1.
“I’m confident to close the door on my chapter and open the door for him to protect the community,” Coleman said.
Coleman will continue to serve Morris part-time as a fire marshal and a coordinator with the county’s emergency management agency.
Coleman received a certificate of appreciation for his service, which includes handling the fire at the Grundy County Highway Department a few years back, from the county at the county board’s meeting Tuesday night.