Peoria Fire Chief set to retire; replacement will be city’s fifth Chief in four years

Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 11:04 AM CST
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PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) - Peoria Fire Chief Jim Bachman is retiring. His last day is March 18.

Bachman took over for Tony Ardis, who retired in 2021. Bachman has been with the fire department since 1994. His replacement will become the city’s fifth fire chief in the last four years. Its a trend the city is looking to reverse with its next hire.

“Some stability at the helm would be something that would be important for me to see and I think for the community to see,” city manager Patrick Urich said. “We want someone that is going to be here for a while.”

But why so many changes in so little time? Firefighters Local 50 president Ryan Brady says budget and staffing roles have made the job hard.

“We don’t give them the means to do it financially or with personnel,” Brady said.

Sources say the department’s budget has declined by about $7 million over the last five years and the agency’s lost of quarter of its firefighters, all while upholding the same standard of care and service for the community.

“This is why we’re on our sixth fire chief in my career as union president,” Brady said. “The mission is impossible.”

The city plans on doing a national search for Bachman’s replacement.

“I want to thank Chief Bachman for his years of service to the residents of Peoria and his leadership of the department during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Urich said. “His experience serving in many divisions provided him with comprehensive expertise of the Fire Department.”

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