Owensboro fire chief to retire after 11 years as chief

Updated: Nov. 19, 2019 at 5:50 PM CST
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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - After working in fire service for almost 40 years, Owensboro Fire Department Chief Steve Mitchell is retiring. 14 News caught up with him on one of his last days on the job.

Steve Mitchell and his family moved from southern Illinois for Steve to become chief at the Owensboro Fire Department. Now, eleven years later, he is hanging up his fire hat.

“It’s kind of like raising your kid and having to let them go. This is the same feeling," said Mitchell. “It’s like yeah I know I’ll be getting rid of the stress and everything that comes with the job, but it doesn’t mean I’m not gonna be thinking about them every day."

On one of his final days as fire chief, Mitchell says he's been working with the new chief to get him ready.

“All we have to do is go through the fun stuff like budget, administration, personnel administration, hiring processes, how all that works," said Mitchell.

Current Battalion Chief James Howard will be taking over Mitchell’s position. Although Mitchell says he’s ready to pass the torch, he says he’s not sure how he’s going to react.

“Obviously in my career, I’ve seen other fire chiefs sworn in but never the one replacing me," he said. “So it’s going to be an interesting experience and I’m not sure how my emotions are gonna, you know, because at the same time they’re going to be recognizing my retirement then turn around and swear him in.”

He may not be at the station every day once he retires, but Steve says he still plans to work in the fire service.

“There’s a lot with the firefighter cancer prevention that goes on. And we’re just scratching the surface on firefighter PTSD and things like that," Steve said. “And I think there’s still room out there to continue being involved in that work.”

Chief Mitchell's last official day will be Monday.

Before Monday night’s city commission meeting, Owensboro leaders gathered to thank Fire Chief Mitchell for his service.

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