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The Chillicothe Voice

Why I Joined Chillicothe Community Fire Protection District - November 2022

Oct 29, 2022 05:05PM ● By Chaplain/FireFighter, Rev. Ron Martz
During the last week of June 2014, my wife Tracy and our two youngest children, Natalie and Jonah, and I were swamped packing up all that we owned to move from Eureka, IL, where I served as Pastor at Eureka United Methodist Church. We were packing to be ready to move to Chillicothe, IL, where I had recently been appointed as the Directing Pastor at First UMC, Chillicothe, by Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton, resident Bishop of the Illinois Great River Conference.
I had been at First UMC for just about two weeks when a gentleman by the name of Rev. Ray Harrison (once a former pastor at First UMC – Chillicothe) stopped by my office to introduce himself and have a chance to meet me.
In our conversation, Rev. Ray asked me a very unusual question; he said, “Ron, have you ever considered serving on a fire department?” I answered, ” No, I haven’t.”
Rev. Ray explained that he had been a Chaplain for about 30 years and was considering retirement. He did not want to leave until he had someone ready to move into the position of Chaplain. I said I had only moved two weeks ago and didn’t know where all my shoes were still. If he gave me a couple of years to get my feet on the ground in ministry, I would like to talk to him about this new ministry idea.
Two years later, Rev. Ray and I had the same conversation. We agreed to meet with Chief Mike Denzer and, during that conversation we moved the discussion to the next level.
Rev. Ray would be retiring, and I would do my best to serve as the new Fire Department Chaplain. When we met with Chief Denzer, our discussion was favorable for all three of us.
So, on April 17, 2017, I was nominated to be the next Chaplain of the Chillicothe Community Fire Department. A vote was taken, and I was approved as the new Chaplain.
After serving from April 2017 to early October that same year, I stopped Chief Denzer after a Fire Department Board Meeting and said, “To better minister to the department members and to know what the firefighters are experiencing, I will take the firefighter training offered by the Department.” He approved.
I had no idea what to expect in training, but I was excited to work hard to join the firefighters as a department member. So, I was one of 10 of us recruits who worked together in training to become firefighters. On December 4, 2017, all ten of us passed our written exams; then, on December 11, 2017, all ten passed our practicals exam. The membership voted on us, approved, and assigned us to our duty Station. I was assigned, and I still am assigned, to Station 2 at Bradley and Truitt.
An additional change was on its way to happening in April 2018 when the Chillicothe Community Fire Department became the Chillicothe Community Fire Protection District under the leadership of Chief Mike Denzer.
For almost six years, it has been my privilege and joy to be a Chaplain/Firefighter for both the Chillicothe Community Fire Department and now the Chillicothe Community Fire Protection District (now under the leadership of Chief Marvin Roderick).
Chillicothe is a great community with excellent and supportive members, and I am proud to be a part of this community and proud to serve here!
If you are interested in joining the Chillicothe Community Fire Protection District, I would be glad to talk with you.