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Bloomington Fire Chief Mohr To Retire

Bloomington fire truck
Eric Stock
/
WGLT
Bloomington Fire Chief Brian Mohr has announced his retirement after 29 years with the department.

UPDATED 1:40 | Bloomington Fire Chief Brian Mohr has announced plans to retire next month after nearly three decades with the department.

“It’s a very rewarding career but it takes a lot out of you as well,” Mohr said. “I’ve been contemplating it for some time, but now just seemed like the right time.”

Brian Mohr portrait
Credit City of Bloomington
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Brian Mohr joined the Bloomington Fire Department in 1991.

Mohr spent 29 years with the fire department and has been its chief since 2015. He previously served as shift commander and assistant chief starting in 2011 and became a training officer in 2013.

Since Mohr started with Bloomington Fire in 1991, the department has opened two additional fire stations and staffs two to three additional ambulances daily.

He said the department has boosted training and collaboration with the town of Normal to improve response times.

Mohr's retirement takes effect Nov. 16. City Manager Gleason said he will name an interim fire chief in the near future.

“(Mohr) has been an excellent example of dedication, professionalism and upstanding character,” Gleason said. “This is a tremendous loss to the city and to the Bloomington Fire Department. Brian is a man of the utmost integrity and character and has earned the respect of staff and the community.”

New Fire Station

Mohr said the city has been studying possible locations for a new fire station to serve the northeast part of the city. Mohr said he envisions Bloomington would run the station rather than join with Normal on a site to better reduce response times in more densely populated areas.

“We’ve had an issue with northeast coverage for years,” Mohr said. “It doesn’t necessarily make sense for us to build a station on that jurisdictional boundary if it doesn’t necessary meet all of Bloomington’s needs and it doesn’t meet all of Normal’s needs.”

Mohr said building a new fire station would cost about $6 million, plus property acquisition.

Hiring Challenges

Mohr said it's a lot harder to find new firefighters than it used to be. The department is looking to fill seven open spots now. He said the paramedic requirement has limited the number of applicants, but it appears fewer young people aspire to become firefighters.

“It seems like the younger generation are more technically interested,” Mohr said. “It seems more like the electronic and technology fields are just more inviting, maybe, and being a firefighter requires more hands-on, mechanical aptitude.”

Mohr said it's possible the 9-11 terrorist attacks kept people from pursuing a career in public safety. Nearly 350 firefighters were among the nearly 3,000 people who died in the 2001 attacks.

COVID

Mohr said five department staffers have tested positive for the coronavirus and 44 personnel had to be quarantined during the pandemic, but each positive case was isolated.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” Mohr said. “We got on top of this very early on.” He said the department enforced regular safety protocols and assigned one of its paramedics to oversee infection control.

What's Next

Mohr, 51, said he plans to decompress for a while, spend time with family and work on his small livestock farm outside Carlock.

He added he’ll miss the people most of all.

“You don’t serve as a first responder and come in contact with and witness some of the tragic events without bonding and leaning on each other,” Mohr said.

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