PEORIA, Ill. — Changing of the guard; honoring the ones who lay their lives on the line for the Peoria area.
Tuesday morning, the Peoria Fire Department held its pinning ceremony promoting five officials, all from within the department, to higher positions.
New Division Chief of Operations Shawn Sollberger was just promoted from shift two Battalion Chief.
Sollberger is a third-generation Peoria firefighter, he says this ceremony was extremely special for his family.
“My dad just pinned me just a few months ago to Batallion Chief, he had the luxury of doing that. Now making it to Division Chief, it’s unbelievable to think that I’m in this position. At the end of the day I’m hoping I can make my family, my friends, this department and this city proud,” Sollberger said.
Sollberger says being a Peoria firefighter runs in the family.
“It really hits home, I’m a third-generation firefighter. My grandpa was a fire chief, my dad retired as a battalion chief. It’s really surreal,” Sollberger said.
All five men promoted graduated from various Peoria highschools.
Chief Ardis graduated from Academy of Our Lady/Spalding Institute.
Assistant Chief Jim Bachman graduated from Peoria Christian.
Division Chief of Operations Shawn Sollberger graduated from Peoria High.
Battalion Chief Steve Rada graduated from Peoria Notre Dame.
Captain Bobby Anderson graduated from Peoria Richwoods.
Chief Ardis says this is a great testament that you can grow up in Peoria, and continue to serve the community where you grow up.
WMBD spoke with Assistant Chief Bachman about how special the pinning ceremony was for him.
“It means a lot to me to serve my community. Grew up in the East Bluff, off Frye Street. Seen some changes over the years, always been a real proud member of the city of Peoria,” said Assistant Chief Jim Bachman.
Bachman has been a firefighter for over two decades, he adds he is proud to serve alongside Chief Ardis.
“As Chief Ardis said, we came on together approximately 26 years ago, came through the Fire Academy together and have worked closely throughout the years,” Bachman said.
Sollberger says the knowledge he learned early on as a firefighter still applies to his job today.
“From day one you realize as a firefighter that you have the ability to make a positive impact on someone’s life on a daily basis. As you go up the ladder, that gets magnified even more and more. But just trying to keep that same basic thought that I can make a positive impact potentially on the outcome of someone’s life on a daily basis is basically our goal,” Sollberger said.
Sollberger says the Peoria Fire Department has had a great command staff over the last few years, and he hopes to carry on that trend.
All commanding officials were promoted as stated below:
Chief Tony Ardis was promoted from Assistant Chief to Chief.
Assistant Chief Jim Bachman was the Division Chief of Operations, which is now Shawn Sollberger’s position.
Steve Rada, now Battalion Chief, was Captain before.
Bobby Anderson now has the role of Captain, he was Engineer before.