WASHINGTON, Ill. -- After more than a week of controversy surrounding the Washington Fire Chief, Chief Mike Vaughn speaks with News 25 in an exclusive interview and shares his story.
"I'm not here for anything but doing the right thing. That's all," said Chief Vaughn. "Whatever that might be. And everyone has their opinion about what that is. In my opinion, I needed to be here to these men and women firefighters and the citizens."
For weeks Vaughn has been challenged about what the right thing is. After a heated debate whether or not he should have his contract renewed, Vaughn's position on the matter has not changed. He says he is here to stay.
"I think they deserve a quality fire department and we're honestly here to provide those services," said Chief Vaughn. "I started out loving it, and I continue to love it. It's just what I do. It's what I am. "
He's been in the fire protection services for more than 32 years; alongside him, his beloved team.
"I've got some of the best guys in the world," said Chief Vaughn. "They are everything to me."
Many of the volunteer firefighters have defended Chief Vaughn since the beginning, and the firefighters were not alone. Many Washington residents at the Washington Fire Board meeting, Tuesday, said they want their fire chief to stay.
"[It's] humbling," said Chief Vaughn. "There's no words to describe it. I can't thank people enough and whatever happens it's a time I'll never forget."
He says he will never forget his love for for the people of Washington.
"It's a great community. I've raised my family here, and I have lived here for decades," said Chief Vaughn. "I don't want this to divide the community. That was never the intention of mine, and I don't think that was ever an intention of anyone."
Since the controversy began, three members of the Washington fire board have resigned.
If the board cannot appoint new members and vote on a new chief by the end of the month, Mike Vaughn's contract will automatically renew.
Vaughn could not make any further comments due to legal concerns.