Longtime Limestone Fire Protection District firefighter extraordinaire Lyle Coffman was honored for his years of public service by the Kankakee County Board on Tuesday at its monthly meeting in the county administration building.
Coffman has served the Limestone Fire Protection District since 1972 and has held positions as a firefighter, paramedic and trustee. He retired on May 18 after 43 years of service.
“I’m pretty honored that you guys could do this and invite me, give me the proclamation,” said Coffman, addressing the board. “But second of all, invite me into your place here on this hallowed ground, and I could come and see where all the action in the county takes place. I’m more than honored, but I’m more than humbled by the fact that you would recognize my efforts.
“Honors come with retirement. At some point, you’ve got to decide where and when you want to end this unless the Lord decides it for you. I quite honestly have an acronym AHH. A stands for age. H stands for health, and the last one, probably the most important one, is hearing. That’s right, and it’s retirement sometimes.”
The proclamation said that Coffman’s efforts have been instrumental in promoting the need for education, training and equipment for the safety of all firefighters. He’s also known and a great storyteller and his leadership has been instrumental in bringing the Limestone Fire Protection District into the modern era by providing the district with a new station in 2001, along with modern equipment.
The proclamation also said Coffman “has promoted safety in agriculture by being a tireless advocate for grain bin safety,” stressing the need equipment, training and awareness of danger.
After he graduated from college in 1964 Coffman said his grandfather urged him to join the volunteer fire department, saying, “We need you.”
“Public service isn’t done, in my opinion, to honor people,” Coffman said. “It’s done as your responsibility to your communities. Period. What comes with that, I’m more than humbled. And I wish you guys could see all the notes and emails and things that I got. The county board has been very supportive in our work.”