EFFINGHAM — Effingham Fire Chief Joe Holomy has submitted his intent to retire next month.
The city council will hear the formal announcement during its regular meeting today (Tuesday, July 17), when it may also decide how to proceed with filling his position.
Interim City Administrator Kelsey Lock said in an email that news of Holomy's retirement came Friday. It hasn't been determined yet how the position will be filled, but the council might elect to retain a recruiting firm, which is how Holomy was hired in November 2004.
Holomy, whose annual salary is about $106,000, has asked that his last day be Aug. 24.
"He has been the ultimate fire suppression technician and fire safety technician," Mayor Jeff Bloemker said. "He's been the ultimate professional for the city."
The mayor said Holomy's roles at the state level have provided networking that has helped the Effingham Fire Department.
Holomy was appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2016 to serve as the chairman of the Illinois Fire Advisory Commission. The commission advises the Illinois State Fire Marshal's Office on fire protection, investigation and prevention and other duties.
He was designated chief fire officer by the Commission on Professional Credentialing at least four times since 2004. He has been a member of the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association since 1994, having served as president of that association in 2008-09.
Holomy's career began in 1976, when he was a volunteer in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. Later, he became a paramedic and worked his way up the paid ranks. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1988, then deputy chief in 1994 and his first chief's position came in 2001.
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"He's gotten a lot of grants for equipment and for training," said Bloemker. "He's elevated our fire department in terms of policy and protocol. If I were trapped inside my burning house, I'd want Joe Holomy showing up."
Effingham County Sheriff Dave Mahon said Holomy's expertise extends beyond the city limits.
Mahon said Holomy has been a devoted employee of the city and worked extensively to help organize the local rural fire protection districts. His professionalism will be missed, Mahon said.
"He left the fire service better than he found it," said Mahon.
Holomy said he was asked to not comment on his pending retirement until after the council has met on Tuesday. He has posted some sentiments on his personal Facebook page about his retirement.
"This decision did not come easily by any means and has been somewhat stressful. ... A great deal of thought and soul searching led me to this decision."
The Effingham Fire Department has two stations, 15 full-time firefighters, 16 part-time firefighters, four administrative staff and a fire chaplain, according to its website.
Bloemker said there are decisions the council must make, including who will be interim fire chief until a replacement can be found. The council is also working on filling the slot left June 29 by City Administrator Jim Arndt.
"Talent comes and goes," said Bloemker. "Sometimes you can go years and years without needing to fill slots, but it is all a part of the process."