Fayetteville fire chief to retire

Posted March 3, 2011 2:41 p.m. EST

— Fayetteville Fire Chief Benny Nichols will retire on July 1, ending 39 years of service to the city.

"It’s time to do something else," Nichols said in a statement. “I am looking forward to exploring new ideas, challenges and opportunities.”

He has served as fire chief since 2004, and the department opened six fire stations during his tenure to handle Fayetteville's growth through annexation. He has also been recognized across the state for innovation with projects such as the Fire Science Academy at E.E. Smith High School.

Nichols was also awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of the highest honors the governor can bestow on a North Carolina citizen.

"He will be missed, but he has built a world-class fire department through dedication and loyalty," Fayetteville City Manager Dale Iman said in a statement.

There was no immediate word on a successor as fire chief.