Chris Letourneau was promoted to captain and Dan Drall was promoted to lieutenant at a ceremony May 3. (Left to right) Cpt. Chris Letourneau, Cpt. Dave Burdick, Chief Al Hyser, Lt. Chad Cunningham, Lt. Dan Drall and Cpt. Shawn Shadle.

By Anne Eickstadt


A large proportion of the Belvidere Fire Department firefighters, both current and retired, joined a promotional ceremony at City Hall for Chris Letourneau and Dan Drall. Family members beamed proudly as these two men were honored. Also present was Mayor-Elect Clint Morris, City Clerk Sarah Turnipseed, City Attorney Mike Drella, Public Works Director Brent Anderson, Belvidere Police Chief Shane Woody, Boone County Sheriff Dave Ernest, BFD Chaplain Pastor Bus, and BFD’s administrative assistant Chris Gilman.

In the past few weeks, two long-term members–Cpt. Mark Zumbragel and Firefighter Chuck Rotolo–of the department have retired and a third one, Josh Oates will be retiring soon. Cpt. Zumbragel contracted COVID-19 a few months ago and Lt. Letourneau has been covering his duties while he was out on sick leave. Letourneau’s diligence in the work has been rewarded by a promotion. FF Dan Drall was chosen to take the lieutenant’s duties as Letourneau turns his attention to his new responsibilities as captain.

On Monday, May 3, BFD Chief Al Hyser said, “This gathering is a testimony of the public safety family culture that we have developed here in Belvidere, that’s a credit to all in this room, the hard work and dedication by all to make Belvidere a good place to live and work.

“Perfect examples of that work ethic and desire to do good things are being honored by promotion this morning. Chris Letourneau and Dan Drall exemplify what it means to not only be excellent public servants, but more, so they are even better people.

“Lt./Paramedic Letourneau joined the Belvidere Fire Dept. in 2005. Prior to starting his career with us, Chris was, and still is, an accomplished electrician, owning his own electrical business. Chris still does electrical work today, teaming up with his mentor and former District #2 Fire Chief Mel Johnson.

“Chris discovered the fire service while working as a volunteer with Boone County District #2 where he had the great fortune of working alongside his dad Bobby on many calls. I know Bobby would be very proud of his son today, especially with all his accomplishments in the fire service and life in general.

“Chris has numerous State Fire Marshal certifications including, but not limited to:

Advanced Firefighter, Basic Company Officer, Advanced Company Officer and Fire Ground Company Officer. He also has Technical Rescue Team Certifications in Collapse, Confined Space, Trench and Rope Technician.

“When Chris isn’t doing all this stuff, he has his administration duties as our Building and Grounds Repair and Maintenance coordinator. He is also our department’s MABAS Div. 8 liaison and helps to construct our Department Standard Operating Policies and Procedures. This man works so hard for the BFD and our community, this promotion is very well deserved. Thanks for all you do, Chris. Special thanks to (Chris’s girlfriend) Courtney for supporting him to do the things he does for our fire department.

“Firefighter/Paramedic Dan Drall joined the BFD in 2003. Dan has worked hard to become a strong, informal leader for our department. He has taken classes enhancing the leadership qualities her already possesses.

“Dan enjoys woodworking on his days off. He and his wife Ann enjoy making and selling their own creations. In fact, Chris and Dan used a lot of their electrical and woodworking skills in remodeling the upstairs of Station #1. It was obvious to me that these two will get along just fine in their new roles as officers of A-shift, While they worked on the remodel I could hear them argue like an old married couple, each having their own ideas, but eventually working to an agreement. I have no doubt that A-shift will be in good hands.

“Dan also has many certifications from the State Fire Marshal. Some of those are Advanced Firefighter, Haz-Mat Technician, Basic Company Officer, and Fire Grounds Company Officer. He is certified as a MABAS Div. 8 rescue diver and leads the BFD’s nine-man water rescue team.

“Dan is also involved in other areas in the department. He not only will be Cpt. Letourneau’s lieutenant on A-shift, but he will also assist with Buildings and Grounds maintenance as well. I also want to thank (Dan’s wife) Ann for her support of Dan as he travels through his fire service career.

“Chris and Dan understand the blessing that has been bestowed upon them for the chance to serve citizens that truly embrace their public servants. They also know what it means to represent the fire service with its rich traditions and history. But, most importantly, above all else is their number one responsibility to make sure that the men they lead go home safely after their shift is over each and every day.”

Letourneau’s girlfriend, Courtney, pinned his new captain’s insignia on his uniform and Drall’s wife, Ann, pinned his new lieutenant’s insignia on him. A round of applause signaled the end of the ceremony and participants were free to join the firefighters in a celebration at Belvidere Fire Station 1.

“This is surprising to me,” said Letourneau. “There are other, very qualified people out there. Until they told me, I wouldn’t have believed it. I have been doing this for the past six months while Cpt. Zumbragel was out with COVID. I am responsible for a lot of people. This is crazy. It still hasn’t really sunk in. It’s exciting.”

“He’s a good man,” said retired firefighter Mike McElroy.

Drall said, “When I got on the BFD, my intentions were not to be in a leadership position but once I started taking on responsibilities, I found I enjoyed it. Helping the department move forward. Being a part of that.

“We’re moving from red (C-shift) to gold (A-shift). I’m excited to work with them. They make my job easy. As a lieutenant, you are always helping to train people to replace you. That is my goal. I am honored that the City of Belvidere gave me the opportunity to be a part of the Belvidere Fire Department family.”

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