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Fire chief retires after decades of service

CHAMPAIGN -- After 50 years of service, the fire chief is hanging up his gear for the last time.
CHAMPAIGN -- After 50 years of service, the fire chief is hanging up his gear for the last time. Douglas Forsman spent nearly two decades at the department. But Thursday, he packed up his office.

"My father was a firefighter. I told him at age 5 I'd be a fire chief."

Forsman kept that promise. He started as a volunteer firefighter in his hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan. He fought fires in Boston, Norfolk and Purdue University before landing in Champaign.

"Back in 1980, a long time ago."

In his 17 years here, Chief Forsman has navigated through budget cuts, adding two new fire stations to the city.

"There's never a dull moment."

Forsman also got the Emergency Medical Service Response Team off the ground in the '80s, guaranteeing a first responder on scene before the ambulance.

"When people ask for our services, they're dealing with things that are sometimes the worst day of their lives."

That's not something Forsman took lightly during his career. And for that, his team and the community are saying thank you.

"He hired me in 1985."

She's been his secretary ever since.

"He's my favorite person in the world. It's hard for me, but I'm thrilled to death that he's getting to enjoy his retirement right now. I'm trying to be happy for him today."

Firefighters sent out one last call for their chief, making his last day very real.

"It kind of hit me as I got up this morning. I thought, 'wow, this is the last time.'"

Forsman's office is all packed up in these boxes. But, his memory and all he's done will live on through the department and the people he left a lasting impression on.

"I wish he weren't leaving. I'll miss him very very much."

The department hasn't had an easy time replacing him, but a captain will take over until they do. As for Forsman, he's taking a mobile home to Arkansas with his wife to enjoy fishing and nature.
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