Meet Our Recruiting Team

Rhonda Foster

Urbana Firefighter since 2008
"This job is hard to get into; give yourself every chance to succeed."

Your background: where are you from? What did you do before you became a Firefighter at the City of Urbana? What else would you like people to know about you?

I was born and raised in Rock Falls, Illinois; I was one of seven children, and my mother was a single mom who juggled all aspects of life.  I attended Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois where I studied Physical Education and lived there for ten years before moving to Urbana.  I became a Paramedic through college and worked full-time for the Wheaton Fire Department as a Paramedic and part-time in in DeKalb as an ER Tech; I also served as a firefighter/paramedic for the Sycamore Fire Department as a paid on call/volunteer.  I tested for over six years before I got a full time job offer with Urbana in 2006. 

I currently hold a Paramedic License, I have my certifications in many aspects of rescue, hazmat and firefighting and I also hold a Bachelor’s degree in Fire Administration.  I have been married for 6 years and have two children, ages 4 and 18 months.

What originally interested you about a career in the Fire Service?

My brother-in-law was a firefighter (now a Fire Chief) and I got to visit him at the fire station.  We shared meals with the firefighters and even got to help wash the rigs.  I would listen to the stories he would tell and could sense his passion and his worth even at a young age. I knew then that I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life like he had.  I knew I wanted to help people and this profession seemed the most rewarding.

What do you like best about your job?

I love helping people.  I love making people’s day a little bit better, to see life being born, or to see the awe in children’s eyes when they see me get off the rig.  It is such an amazing feeling!

What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career as a Firefighter?

Be physically and mentally tough.  This job is hard both mentally and physically and it takes a lot to get through certain days. Find a source of stress relief; this helps you get through the hard moments. For me, my stress relief is my faith in God. Take all of the classes you can that relates to the fire service, visit your local fire houses and get to know the staff there. Show interest and initiative and test everywhere, don’t limit your testing to just one area. This job is hard to get into; give yourself every chance to succeed.  If you can handle the challenge it is the best job in the whole world.

Watch Engineer Foster's fire service story:


Phil Edwards

Urbana Firefighter since 1996
Watch Fire Marshal Edward's fire service story:

Read more about Fire Marshal Edwards in the News-Gazette and  Journal Gazette & Times Courier

Josh Ingold

Urbana Firefighter since 2014

I was born and raised in Fisher, Illinois but I now reside in rural Philo, Illinois.  Before I began working at the City of Urbana I worked as an EMT-basic at Professional Ambulance in Champaign, Illinois as well as Gibson Area Ambulance Service.  Also, during my time on the ambulance and at the City of Urbana I was in the Illinois Army National Guard.

I was first exposed to the fire service while living in Fisher.  I was able to join the department as a volunteer and start the initial training to see if I liked the work.  I was immediately drawn to it because of the challenging work, both physically and mentally.  The longer I worked, the more I enjoyed the team aspect and comradery you build with the other firefighters.

The best part of my job is the second family you are able to build while working with your coworkers.  Not only do you run emergency calls and depend on each other, but you get to know them on a personal level during other tasks during the day.  Whether it’s cooking a meal, cleaning the station, training, working out or doing fire inspections you do it together. That creates a family atmosphere.


The most challenging aspect of my work is the fact that your day is unknown.  When you come into work there will be a few things that are planned, this could be training, inspections, equipment maintenance or many other possibilities. Everything else in your day is unknown. The emergency calls you run vary greatly and could happen at any time during your shift.   This is also a positive, since every day is different it keeps you from getting bored or complacent.

If you are considering a career as a firefighter the best thing you can do is go do ride time.  Get into a firehouse, ask questions and observe what a typical day is like and see if it is for you.  You can also look up information for firefighter applicants to see what it takes to apply for a job, such as physical ability tests and written exams.

City of Urbana | 400 S. Vine St., Urbana, IL. 61801 | 217/384-2459

The City of Urbana Welcomes Diversity! 
We foster an environment that values and encourages mutual respect, inclusion of all people, and utilizing differences and similarities as an organizational asset. EOE.