Urbana Fire Chief is Set to Retire in May
By Manu Ferreira
Urbana Fire Chief is set to retire in May. Chuck Lauss will leave the department after three and a half years of service.
Lauss came to Urbana as fire chief in 2018 having a large background. He started his fire service in the city of Pekin, where he worked for 22 years. After retiring there, he commanded the fire department at Caterpillar facilities in the Peoria area for 5 years, and served the city of Peoria as an assistant fire chief and later fire chief.
All together sum up to a 35-year career. “I love this job. It’s never been a job to me. You know, for 35 years I love it so much, I’ve never gone to work,” he says.
Although his time was short in Urbana, he is proud of his and the staff's accomplishments. Including plans for two new modern stations and six additional firefighters that will join the department in May.
"I’ve always said. It’s not me, it’s we. I’ve not done anything. I’ve been able to help with the direction and the vision, but it’s my department, it’s the staff that we work with. It’s we that have done all of this. Collectively, together.” affirms.
Chuck Lauss said that the crew always talks about things that are important for the department, such as the new stations, for example. “The firefighters have started collecting data on what the new stations should look like for health and safety purposes. We got all that stuff put together.”
The two old stations are a little over 50 years old now and don’t offer many facilities focused on health and safety. Therefore, they expect to implement workout and movie rooms, as well as nutrition and psychological programs.
“I want them to look at putting things in the stations that affect their retirement. We want them to retire healthy and happy,” explains.
The biggest challenge
Lauss says he has faced big challenges during his time in Urbana. The biggest one is Covid-19.
“It’s been a long process to navigate through, but as we had worked together with other staff members and with this awesome department, we maintained our staffing and we never had any reduction in services. But it has been a challenge of making sure we are complying with the testing, with the masking mandate, with the social distancing, all of that. We try to make sure that everybody stays safe,” states Lauss.
Now the plan is to move to South Carolina and enjoy his time with his wife. “I jokingly tell my wife that this 35-year love affair with my career is just coming to a close and we will spend a lot of more time together,” revealed the Chief adding that he will miss the fire service.
"I’ll miss my Urbana firefighters. They’ve been part of my family, my life, but it’s time. It’s time to move on to the next chapter,” added.
Chuck Lauss’ last day in the office is on May 6th. But on the 5th, the city of Urbana will do a walkout ceremony to honor his service. The new fire chief will be announced by the mayor soon.
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