Excerpts from jg-tc.com:

Mattoon Fire Chief Tony Nichols has announced that he plans to retire after leading the department for nine years and serving in the department for 24 years after  joining the fire department in December 1994.

He said the budgets for the fire department and city have gotten tighter every year during the last decade which have made it tougher to operate the department. He said the council’s vote to eliminate the department’s ambulance service last summer was a factor in deciding it was time to retire. The fire department operated an advanced life support ambulance service from 2010 to 2018. City officials have said that the department’s ambulance service lost money and duplicated the work of private providers. Firefighters countered that their service generated needed city revenue and provided essential coverage for Mattoon.

Nichols, a Mattoon native, is a second generation Mattoon firefighter. His father, Gary, served with the fire department for 27 years and retired as captain more than a decade ago. Nichols joined the department after serving in the Navy and worked his way up to becoming chief in October 2009.

He is proud of fundraisers that firefighters have held for various community causes, such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the firefighter’s Thanksgiving food basket program in addition to the more than $550,000 in grants that firefighters have obtained in recent years to help with the purchase of a rescue pumper and turnout gear.