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Fire Lieutenant Russ Boersma retires after 42 years

by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (May 28, 2019) – “He was a fixture in our fire department for over 40 years,” said Fire Chief Chad Kooyenga at the May 21 Village Board meeting. “To be exact, it was 42 years of service to the Village of Lansing.” Kooyenga invited paid-on-call firefighter Russ Boersma to the front of the room to be acknowledged and thanked on the occasion of his retirement.

Kooyenga shared with the Board and the public some highlights from Boersma’s years as a Lansing firefighter:

  • His career began in 1976. (“Just for perspective, I was four years old at that time,” said Kooyenga.)
  • He became a member of the Honor Guard when it was established in 2001.
  • In 2004 he received a commendation for rescuing a mother and child during a fire in a high-rise apartment building.
  • The Knights of Columbus named him Firefighter of the Year in 2005.

Illinois State Statute makes 65 the mandatory retirement age for firefighters; otherwise “Russ would still probably be out here fighting fires,” said Kooyenga.

Boersma was presented with a plaque honoring his 42 years of service. It is a fire service tradition to give a retiring firefighter his helmet, so Boersma was presented with that as well.

Following fire service tradition, Fire Chief Chad Kooyenga (right) presents retiring Lieutenant Russ Boersma with his helmet at the May 21 Village Board meeting. Red is the color for lieutenants. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.