REDINGS MILL — After 13 years operating under Chief Andy Nimmo's leadership, the Redings Mill Fire Protection District has a new leader.

Monday evening, the Redings Mill Fire District Board of Directors chose longtime fire protection district member Steve Coats to take over the position, effective immediately.

Nimmo, who has been with the department a total of 21 years, announced his departure earlier this month. He is leaving to accept the position of assistant training chief with the Joplin Fire Department.

"I'm proud to follow in his footsteps. It's going to be different not having him here," Coats said. "Everybody knows Andy as the chief, it's going to be tough to fill that void but I look forward to the challenge and being able to step up. The best thing is I have the biggest support group with all of our staff on the career and volunteer side and our board of directors."

Coats has devoted his entire career as a firefighter to the Redings Mill Fire Protection District, starting as a volunteer in 1992, joining the full-time staff in 1995 and serving as the fire district's operations chief for the past six years.

"I've never been anywhere else but here," Coats said.

Coats said his new role does not mean big changes for the department, but instead a continued focus to keep the district operating smoothly.

"The biggest thing is we're not looking to have any earth-shattering changes, we're just looking to maintain where we're at," Coats said. "No knee-jerk reactions, no changes of service or anything like that, just keeping things where they are and going the same direction."

He said his time as an officer and working closely with Nimmo has helped to prepare him for his new leadership role.
"The good thing about his leadership was he always incorporated all the officers into the decisions and so being part of that has kind of helped me with knowing where we need to go and the things we need to maintain," Coats said. "That's my biggest thing is just maintaining the quality service we provide."

The Redings Mill Fire Protection District has 14 paid personnel, made up of three rotating shifts with four personnel on each shift, two administrative officers, and one vacancy left from Nimmo's departure.

Coats said the department also has approximately 25 volunteer firefighters.

Coats is a Joplin native.

He and his wife, Lisa, have three children.