CLEVELAND - White County Fire Chief Dickie Howard has announced he is stepping down from his post and retiring for a second time.
Howard said he is approaching his 62nd birthday and that it's, "pretty old to be playing in the fire anymore."
It marks his second retirement from his fire career. He retired after 30 years with the Gwinnett County Fire Department prior to accepting a position with White County. He was named county fire chief in 2005. His last day on the job will be this Friday.
Howard made a public announcement of his plans during the annual fire department Christmas dinner last Friday. Howard talked with fire department volunteers and shared his thoughts about the job.
"I told them a thing that you have to look at is a group of firefighters can make a chief, but a chief can not make a group of good firefighters. They can make me look good, I can't make them look good they're the ones that make the public relations for this department."
The department's volunteers have declined in the last few years, like many civic organizations and groups. Howard said this has put more of a work load on those do have to meet the calls.
In an email to firefighters last week Howard said, "I delayed announcing this for several reasons, none of them good, but mainly because I really didn't have the words. I put in the letter I've been with a lot of these people through good times and bad times and sometimes it's down right weird, but I wouldn't trade them for nothing in the world."
Howard said he wanted to make his exit now to give a new chief time to come in and work up a budget for the next year.