By Roger McKinney
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Beginning as a volunteer with the Redings Mill Fire Protection District 18 years ago, Steve Coats has been named the district’s sixth fire chief.
Coats has served as the district’s operations chief for the past six years. He lives in Joplin and graduated from Joplin High School in 1992.
The Redings Mill Fire Protection District formed in 1978, covering approximately 110 square miles south of Joplin. About 13,000 people reside within the district.
“I feel pretty confident about it,” Coats said of his new position. “I’ve been an officer since 2002, and I’m familiar with all aspects of the district. I think the leadership role that Andy has provided has helped me gain the knowledge I need to be successful.”
Andy is Andy Nimmo, who has served as fire chief for the past 13 years. Nimmo is taking a position with the Joplin Fire Department.
“Steve’s going to do a great job,” Nimmo said. “I have a real passion for this department, and I trust him to the fullest extent.”
Coats said the fire district has six stations in its territory. It has 14 full-time career members, 25 volunteers and a 12-member fire corps — a nonemergency support staff.
The fire district helps residents keep their insurance rates down, Coats said.
The new Mercy Hospital Joplin is being built just north of the fire district’s territory, which may spur residential or business development farther south.
Coats said it will be a challenge to find alternate routes if hospital construction blocks access to some roads.
“The housing industry is going to pick up in our district, with people wanting to live near work,” Coats said. He said the fire district will adjust to the growth as it happens.
The Redings Mill Fire Protection District is funded by a real estate and personal property tax that produces revenue of about $1.1 million annually, said Fire Chief Steve Coats.