Chico's Fire Chief wants to set the record straight about his upcoming retirement.
Chief Jim Beery made the announcement last week, but the decision has fueled much speculation in the community about the "real" reason he's stepping down.
Beery met with Action News Now Reporter Linda Watkins-Bennett, to explain why he's leaving now. He said, "people are saying there's reorganization, the economic mess, are you being forced out or is it just too much to take? That's not the case."
His official last day won't come until October, but with vacation time and a trip to Ireland planned ... Beery won't be around much after the end of this month.
The outgoing Chief says family reasons truly are behind his decision to leave, "My wife passed away a year and a half ago and I suddenly became a single dad to a teenager who's going to be a sophomore in High School. It's just too much time away from her this past year and a half, I decided I need to be there for her."
Since taking over the helm five years ago, Beery says he's proud that his department has become stronger. And even though changes are occurring because of the city's budget crisis, he regrets he won't be here to help with the transition, "I wish I could stay to be part of that, because we're going to look back as a community three to five years from now and say Wow! We're better now, we're healthy again."
Beery's firefighting career spans 34 years ... and he admits he's a bit anxious about how his life will change," I'll be hearing sirens and have no idea what's going on and that's a strange feeling after doing this so long."
Keith Carter, a 27 year firefighting veteran, will serve as Interim Fire Chief of the City of Chico until the position is filled. ###