After more than three decades of service, the Colorado Springs fire chief has announced his retirement.
The city released a statement Tuesday.
Chief Rich Brown has been with the Colorado Springs Fire Department for 32 years, starting as a firefighter and quickly climbing the ranks. He has been with the department during some of the city's worst disasters, and was at the helm during the Waldo Canyon Fire.
"That's a sad decision for me,” Mayor Steve Bach said. “I think very highly of Chief Brown. He's been a tremendous leader in our city."
We asked City Council members about the announcement, and many of them were startled by the news.
"I actually was surprised,” Jan Martin said. “I've known Rich for the last several years while I’ve been here at the city."
During the Waldo Canyon Fire, city leaders say Brown played an integral part in the evacuation of homeowners.
"He was somebody who gave us a great calmness during the Waldo Canyon Fire last summer," Councilwoman Jill Gaebler said.
"Having Rich close by after what we went through last summer might turn out to be very valuable," Martin added.
A nationwide search for his replacement begins now. We asked to speak with Chief Brown and we were told he would not be giving any interviews about his announcement.
We're also working to find out if he'll be collecting his pension while he's getting paid as a consultant. We’ll let you know what we find out.
Below is the city's statement
Colorado Springs Fire Chief Richard Brown announced his retirement today after 32 years with the Colorado Springs Fire Department. Chief Brown worked his way up through the ranks as firefighter, paramedic, Lieutenant, Captain and Battalion Chief, to Deputy Chief of Operations. Throughout his career he was assigned to the Operations Division, Medical Division and Training Division. Whether it was manning a fire hose or guiding the department - from the Red Tag Explosion in 1986, to the Blizzard of ’97, to Castle West in 2007, to the Waldo Canyon Fire - Chief Rich Brown has served during some of the community’s worst disasters.
“Fire Chief Rich Brown is truly a legend in our region for his bravery, courage and leadership as a firefighter for the City. During my term he has also served as an instrumental member of our City Executive Team. Chief Brown set a very high standard for himself and his department, earning a prestigious national honor. He was an innovator, creating numerous community service programs, including neighborhood free health clinics in our fire stations. Chief Brown has my deepest respect and appreciation for his long, distinguished service to the citizens of Colorado Springs. He will continue to provide us with important consulting help for several months. We will be naming an Interim Fire Chief by the Chief’s April 30 retirement date and will subsequently conduct a national search for his successor, “ said Mayor Steve Bach.
“I am honored to have served in every capacity that I have and did my best every day. I’m very pleased that the CSFD is now Internationally Accredited. I believe we are on the right track exploring the options that are out there with respect to ambulance contracts and that will only serve the community better. We have a great department that looks to serve our citizens in the best possible way,” said Chief Brown
Rich Brown holds a Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership from Regis University. Brown will remain with the City as a consultant until the end of the year - receiving his full salary and benefits.