RANTOUL, Ill. (WCIA)- After 47 years of service to the city of Rantoul, Fire Chief Ken Waters is officially retiring.  

For Waters, legacy runs deep. The saying ‘Following in your father’s footsteps,’ is quite literal.  

“That’s why I got on the department initially and my brother at that time. Dad had been on since 1952, we’d see him go to all the fire calls and stuff, and then he’d come back and talk about them,” said Waters. 

 He says he remembers the day when his son Dave told waters he was going to be a firefighter too.  

“Exhilarating you might say, it was neat, and then to see him pass all the tests and everything,” said Waters. 

Between Ken, his father, two brothers, and son, the Waters have given 110 years to the Rantoul Fire Department.  

“It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve Rantoul,” said Waters. 

 In his 47 years as a firefighter, 17 were spent as fire chief and in that time, he says he’s seen a lot. “Just some of the accidents we’ve been in, con-air fire out there, that was my first big one that I ran, we had a lady who got killed out there in an explosion,” said Waters.  

Even though his job is tough, He says it’s easy to look back and remember happy times with the department.

“We’ve had a couple of weddings, one of the assistant chiefs at that time, there is a picture of him and his wife on one of the open cab fire trucks,” said Waters. 

His favorite part of the job? The comradery with the other firefighters. “And watching them grow up and become better firefighters is awesome,” said Waters. 

 His biggest advice for those who aspire to become a fire fighter is that safety truly comes first. 

 “You want to be safe on the scene, you wanna be safe, you wanna go home at the end of the detail that we’re doing,” said Waters. 

 Waters says there is lots he will miss.  

“Missing the guys, I grew up in the fire department with my dad, hearing the tones go off, knowing what’s going on, what do they have, what are they going to run into, thinking about them, yeah that’s going to be a little bit tough,”  

After all these years, Ken says he is going to spend more time with his wife and family. 

Thankfully he won’t be too far. He’ll be running the family business that is located right across the street from the station. So, he’ll be around if the station needs him.