Council Confirms Summers as New Jacksonville Fire Chief

By Jeremy Coumbes on November 14, 2023 at 12:31pm

Retiring Chief Doug Sills congratulates newly appointed and confirmed Jacksonville Fire Chief Matthew Summers during Monday night's city council meeting.

The Jacksonville Fire Department’s leadership officially changed hands last night.

The Jacksonville City Council unanimously approved a resolution to confirm Mayor Andy Ezard’s recent appointment of Matthew Summers as Chief of the Jacksonville Fire Department during the regular session Monday night.

Summers succeeds now former Fire Chief Doug Sills who held the top post for nine years, capping off a 34-year career with the Jacksonville Fire Department.

Former Fire Chief Doug Sills shakes Mayor Andy Ezard’s hand after delivering his official retirement address to the City Council Monday night.

Sills, who announced his retirement in late October, spoke to the City Council last night, thanking the current and former councils, members of the public as well as his wife Sherry for the many years of support he was given over the years. Sills said he is proud of how far the department has grown in that time.

He also commended Summers for his work in helping the department achieve continued training goals, and that he would match the Jacksonville Fire Department against any department in the state.

Jacksonville Fire Chief Matt Summers is officially pinned by his daughter Bella as former Chief Doug Sills looks on.

The council then voted unanimously to approve Summers’ promotion to Chief. Mayor Ezard says he enjoyed last night and looks forward to the future of the department. “It was a good evening. You know we said goodbye to Chief Sills and welcomed our new Chief Summers in. It was a neat night for his family and for Matt to get pinned by his daughter Bella.

Moving forward, he’s got a great group of firemen that he is going to lead and we look forward to good things continuing with our fire department like they’ve done in the past. I think the skill set of this group, not just Chief Summers, but all the personnel, everybody has unique skill sets. Our community should be proud that we have a good force like them.”

Chief Summers says he is grateful for both the opportunity and the chance to work with all the great guys in the department.

Summers is in his 21st year with the department having joined in 2002. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 2018 followed by Captain in 2020 when he was assigned to oversee the department’s continuing tech rescue training program.

He says one of his first goals as Chief is to see that training path continued in the department so the staff is even more capable in all situations. “We are constantly trying to send the guys to more and more schools and more and more training to help make every level of firefighter better.

We have hose man rank, firefighter rank, driver/engineer, lieutenants and captains, and the chief’s position. And I suppose the best thing I can tell you to answer that is we’re going to try to increase the training even more and some of the requirements. Which we’ve been doing, we’ve been increasing the training since Doug took over as chief nine years ago, and we’re going to continue in that path.”

Summers says with continuing retirements on the horizon within the department, there is also the continuing need for new recruits as a number of promotions are up for approval by the Board of Police and Fire Commissioners before the end of the year.

He says he is grateful the Jacksonville Fire Department has been seeing more and more good applicants come in and apply. He says anyone who has an interest in being a firefighter with the Jacksonville Fire Department should contact him for more information.