During an open house planned to honor retiring Fire Chief Bob Coleman today, Saturday, June 9, those in attendance will be afforded an opportunity to address the chief in front of the group.
While the open house at the Morris Fire and Ambulance Protection District’s Station 2 on Ashton Road is planned for 1 to 3 p.m., these special public tributes are slated to begin at 2 p.m.
It would come as no surprise to the Morris Daily Herald if the public words of praise lasted until the planned end of the celebration ... if not beyond.
Chief Coleman is worthy of every adulation and acknowledgement that will be voiced this afternoon — and not just because he has served 52 years on the Morris Fire Department, including the past 35 as chief.
Longevity, in this case, is not the sole reason that Coleman is worthy of being celebrated. His contributions to the Morris Fire Department specifically — and firefighting in the area in general — could fill not only this column, but probably this newspaper.
Among the more noteworthy are the fact that it was Coleman, himself, who changed the process of how he was to retain his job each year since 1990. Prior to then, the chief was elected by members of the department. Since his suggestion over 20 years ago, the district trustees have appointed the chief.
Coleman — who has always served in his role without a contract — has been their selection every year.
“He is as much a part of the job as the job is a part of him,” Trustee Mark Jorstad told the MDH for a GO Magazine story in 2010, when Coleman marked 50 years in the fire service.
Over his career, Coleman has also overseen the doubling of the department’s membership, from 25 to 50, as well as the construction of the city of Morris’ newest fire station (where his celebration will be held). He also spearheaded the local requirement that all firefighters be state-certified.
He was also in charge during the transition from an all-volunteer to a paid department.
He played an important role in establishing the Chief Shabbona Firefighter’s Association, helped to created a fire service program at the Grundy Area Vocational Center, and served on the Joliet Junior College’s fire science board for more than 30 years.
“I really have been totally involved (in education), and I totally believe in it,” he told the MDH earlier this week.
Actually, Chief Coleman has told the Morris Daily Herald a lot through the years — and for that, we would like to add our thanks to the many he will hear later today.
As a media outlet, the information we can provide to our readers is only as good and extensive as the information we are able to glean from the local officials who are directly involved in the news.
Chief Coleman has always made himself available to our reporters, whether at a fire scene or when a call to his cell phone early the next morning interrupted his breakfast; been forthcoming with the information we needed in order to keep you informed; and understanding when points needed to be clarified or questions asked a second time.
For that, we thank you, Bob, and we add our collective voice to all those wishing you the best of luck in retirement.
The Morris Daily Herald Editorial Board is led by Publisher Gerry Burke and editors Patrick Graziano and Mark Malone. It makes its editorial decisions in consultation with other members of the Herald staff.