Hard-working fire chief decides to step down

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – After more than 26 years of service, Fire Chief Barry Helmerichs is hanging up his helmet.

Helmerichs says his retirement is bittersweet.

 “I mean I've spent a lot of my adult life doing this and it's how I identified myself," he said. "Not as a fire chief but as a firefighter."

He says all of his hard work has paid off after the Springfield fire department reached a class 1 ranking. Mayor Jim Langfelder admits this ranking was thanks to Helmerichs' hard work.

“He took a class three fire department and he brought it with the other leaders of the fire department as well as the firefighters and accomplished that task of class one," Langfelder said.

The ranking means the Springfield Fire Department is in the top 250 stations in the nation.

Now Helmerichs is passing on his title to Allen Reyne.

"I've know him since he's been on the job," Reyne said. "He is very competent, extremely smart, and level-headed. He is going to push us forward some more. I know his main goal will be to take care of the citizens of Springfield. Our members do a wonderful job. They do a great job everyday, and that has a lot to do with Chief Helmerichs."

That is why Chief Barry Helmerichs is this week’s Spirit of Central Illinois recipient.

Anyone who has a person to nominate for the Spirit of Central Illinois Award should email jacklynn.boatman@wandtv.com.

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