SEMINOLE — This city will be looking for a new fire chief now that George Bessler has announced his retirement.
Bessler, who has been Seminole's fire chief for three years, gave his notice to City Manager Frank Edmunds in a short note dated Aug. 1. His last day will be Aug. 30.
"It has been my pleasure to serve the city of Seminole and the greater Seminole community for over 31 years. I have truly enjoyed and have found it very rewarding to work with dedicated emergency response personnel that sincerely care about the wellbeing of each other and our community. I have also been fortunate to work for a city manager that genuinely cares about the welfare of our employees and of the community."
Bessler told Edmunds he won't be taking it easy. He's taking a new job as training chief with the East Lake Fire Rescue Department.
"George has served our community for more than 30 years and has performed well as our fire chief," Edmunds said. "I wish him well in his new position and will soon begin a search for a new chief."
Bessler, 53, said Thursday that he had always planned to fully retire when he reaches age 60. Although he has enjoyed being Seminole's fire chief, helping firefighters learn has always been his first love. So when he saw that East Lake was searching for a training chief, he thought that's what he'd like to do for the last seven years of his working life.
He sent an email to his firefighters with some final thoughts:
"The thing that I enjoyed the most working here, the thing that makes our department what it is, is the people working here now, and all those who preceded us. It has been a privilege to spend 31 years at a place where each and every one continues to have the passion, compassion and desire to serve our community the way it deserves to be served, even when some in our community don't act like they deserve it.
"Be proud of what you do, why you do it, and the difference you make within our community.''
Bessler began working with the Seminole department in April 1982, He beat out 36 other applicants to become chief in 2010 after the retirement of Dan Graves. As chief, he earns about $93,781 a year.
Anne Lindberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8450.