The city of Worthington will give a big sendoff to Worthington Division of Fire & EMS Chief John Bailot, who is leaving for a job in Illinois.

Residents are invited to the farewell party from 2 to 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 14, at the fire station, 6500 N. High St. in Worthington.

Bailot, 58, announced his resignation in January, and his last day will be Feb. 16, according to Worthington spokesperson Anne Brown.

Assistant Chief Mark Zambito will take over as acting chief the following day, Brown said.

“It’s been a great experience,” Bailot said. “It’s been a great honor to work with highly dedicated professionals.”

A 37-year veteran of the fire service, Bailot will join the city of Collinsville Fire Department in western Illinois.

Bailot said he is from near St. Louis, and he is leaving Worthington to spend more time with his family.

He was hired in August 2016 as assistant fire chief and named chief in January 2018 to replace the retired Scott Highley.

“I moved here for an opportunity,” Bailot said. “It was a great opportunity.”

Bailot’s annual salary is $129,288. His benefits package is worth approximately $35,000, consisting primarily of the required employer contribution to the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund, according to Brown.

City Manager Matt Greeson is meeting with fire-division personnel and assessing how to best move forward in selecting the next fire chief, Brown said.

“As with any crucial leadership position within our organization, we are being thoughtful in evaluating the future needs of the department and considering next steps,” Greeson said.

He said Bailot served the community well.

“Chief Bailot is an energetic leader who, together with his skilled team of firefighter-paramedics, has worked hard to provide exemplary emergency services to the Worthington community,” Greeson said. “He has worked diligently to enhance relationships with community partners and the jurisdictions we serve.”

The Worthington Division of Fire & EMS serves Worthington, Perry and Sharon townships and the village of Riverlea.

“Chief Bailot has striven to make personal connections with all Worthington citizens, providing outreach and education to assure the safety and well-being of this community,” Greeson said.