Belleville, Ill. – September 9, 2020 – The City of Belleville last night promoted three firefighters and honored outgoing Deputy Fire Chief Arthur “Bud” Jacobs for his nearly 30 years of service to the Belleville Fire Department.
“After 26 ½ years of service, with six-and-a-half being deputy fire chief, I would like to thank Bud Jacobs for his dedication to the residents of the City of Belleville,” said Mayor Mark Eckert. “We’ll miss you and wish you well as you enjoy retirement.”
In addition to Jacobs’ departure, Captain Stephanie Mills was promoted to battalion chief, Engineer Jeremy DeJournett was promoted to captain, and Firefighter Josh Owens was promoted to engineer.
“During my time as mayor, we have worked hard to always place the right person in the right role,” said Eckert. “We’ve come a long way in that and a long way in diversifying our employee base. So, I am certain these promotions are putting the right people in the right place to do the best job possible for the City of Belleville and its residents.”
Mills, who joined the Belleville Fire Department in 2000, said that for her, a career as a firefighter was something she wasn’t exposed to as a child because she grew up in a very small town in northern Michigan, where there was only a small volunteer fire department. In fact, Mills earned a degree in elementary education and taught middle school for eight years before becoming a firefighter was something that she realized she wanted to do.
“I became very intrigued with the profession a bit later in life and changed my career path to one that was more enriching and rewarding for me,” explained Mills.
For her, that meant a career that demanded teamwork and camaraderie while still helping people.
“I have been extremely fortunate to have really good mentors who encourage training and learning,” she said. “I’ve had nothing but positive experiences while with the Belleville Fire Department and hope to continue to carry on that strong tradition of excellence in my new role.”
Mills said that during her 20-year tenure with the department, she and her fellow firefighters have had more training and are more prepared than ever before to keep the city safe.
“Our current chief has been a proponent of more training and certifications,” she said. “So, we are all more diversified in our knowledge base and prepared to handle most any issue that comes our way, including things like technical rescue and hazmat response.”
Mills said that to be a successful firefighter, one must be a student of the profession and be willing to go to work and get the job done, no matter what that job is.
“If you want to become a firefighter, be prepared to be challenged and have a little grit,” she said. “To me, this is the most rewarding career possible.”
Belleville’s first fire department was organized in 1841 as a volunteer department with two fire stations. By 1878, the city council authorized a pay schedule for its firefighters, and in 1918, Belleville’s firefighters unionized and became charter members of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF). Belleville Firefighters Local 53, as a charter member of the IAFF, is very active in the community and surrounding area. Because of its excellent fire department, the City of Belleville has been awarded a Class 2 ISO (Insurance Services Office, Inc.) rating, which is one of the lowest ratings awarded to the communities in Southern Illinois. This rating reflects the extensive training, aggressive building plan review, and building inspection programs conducted by personnel at the Belleville Fire Department. Only two percent of all fire departments in the United States receive a Class 2 ISO rating or better.
To learn more about the City of Belleville, visit www.belleville.net.
Pictured from left are Fire Chief Tom Pour, Arthur “Bud” Jacobs and Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert.
Pictured from left are Fire Chief Tom Pour, Battalion Chief Stephanie Mills, Engineer Josh Owens, and Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert.