Joe Lee (right) was named the new fire chief of Mitchell Fire Department on June 9, replacing his father, Eddie (left). Eddie has been the fire chief for 27 years.
After a month, Joe Lee is enjoying his new role as chief of the Mitchell Fire Department.
“It’s going pretty good,” Lee said. “We’ve just got to get everything lined up and everything going forward.”
Lee replaced his father, Eddie, as the fire chief on June 9. Eddie Lee retired from the fire department after 42 years, 27 of them were as fire chief.
“There are big shoes to fill. There is a lot of responsibility,” Joe Lee said. “I was definitely excited. I was assistant chief for the last eight years, so I got to work aside him for the last eight years. I was captain six years before that. It’s been exciting. There’s a lot of stuff going on. We have a lot of development going on, so I’ve got my hands full going into my first year.”
Eddie Lee began his career as volunteer of the Mitchell Fire Department in 1973. He became the fire chief in 1988, when his son was still in high school.
“I learned a lot from him as far as managing people and the way of treating people,” said Joe Lee, who has lived in Mitchell since he was 2. “My key is even though you’re a manager or whatever, I always try to treat people the way we would want to be treated and earn that respect that way. He had a lot of respect out here, so I’m hoping to keep that up and follow into his footsteps.”
Lee said he has plenty of goals for his first year as Mitchell fire chief.
“I like to try to work on looking into getting a new fire truck, maybe replace one or add another one to our fleet,” he said. “We just want to step forward and go forward on our train besides just firefighting, technical rescue and stuff like that. We’ve got a bunch of new business out there in Pontoon Beach, so hopefully in the future we’ll be able to maybe add on a couple of full-time guys in the future. That’s what I like to work towards.”
Lee graduated from Granite City High in 1990, the same year he joined the Mitchell Fire Department.
“I started out on the junior program when I was 18,” said Lee, who took classes through a firefighting program at Southwestern Illinois College and is currently working on a bachlelor’s degree at Columbia Southern University. “When I was turned 21, I moved up to the firefighters status off the junior program and I went up from there.”
Lee said now that he’s the new fire chief, he wants to be active in the community.
“I’ve got a couple of guys working on relations on starting some new programs for senior citizens and we’re getting to start a smoke protector program,” he said. “We’re going to meet with the senior citizens and kind of show them a little bit on what we’ve got and what we offer. I’m a full time firefighter at U.S. Steel.”