After 33-years of service, Bryant Fire Chief Randy Cox cites health concerns as the main reason he plans to retire on May 25.
"With injuries that I received while on the job in 2009, several surgeries, as well as the everyday struggles and constant pain, I can no longer meet the requirements of my job," he said in a memo to Bryant city officials.
Fifty-two-year-old Cox told The Saline Courier that he has been offered an early retirement package "and I have decided to take it." He has served as a firefighter for 33-years, with 22 years in Bryant and 13 of those years as the Bryant fire chief. Though he plans to "get my health back in order and will spend time with family," Cox also said he will continue to push the city to "take care" of his fellow firefighters.
"I care about the firefighters and I hope to get them all raises," he said. "I will fight the battle to get them a raise before I walk out of the door. If it doesn't happen by then, I will continue to fight for them as a citizen."
Bryant Mayor Jill Dabbs said, "Chief Cox will be sorely missed. He has been a tremendous asset to the fire department, the city of Bryant and to my administration. I have no doubt that, even though he won't be fire chief, he will continue to be involved in the community. He loves Bryant. He has made a difference in the lives of our residents in ways most people don't know. It has been an honor to work with him."
Cox said not only does he send thanks to Dabbs and the current city council members, but the past administrations as well. He served under the mayoral leadership of the late Roy Bishop, Paul Halley, Larry Mitchell and Dabbs.
Cox also thanked Administrative Assistant Cindy Bell for "being a great asset" and thanked "my bravest firefighters for their support and continued service to the community."
"Mayor Dabbs I would also like to thank you for giving me that phone call on Dec. 29, 2010 at 8:49 p.m. requesting that I attend with you at the swearing in of your administration on Jan. 1, 2011. I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to continue to serve the City of Bryant; the community I live in and love," Cox said. "Over the last 13 years, I can say that anytime I went to the council with a request for the fire department, the council knew it was a need and not a want for the items that were requested. As fire chief, I have always tried to be a good steward of the resident's monies and put our firefighter's safety and the safety of our residents first, while keeping (thoughts of) what's best for out city with every decision."
He added, "I ask that the council please continue to support the fire department and the firefighters who serve the citizens everyday with passion and professionalism."
Cox said that he always "tried to think outside the box" but also realizes that it "sometimes caused concern." However, he said it was always in his interest to do "what is best for the city and the services that (firefighters) provide." Cox believes that whoever takes over the duties as the chief commanding officer will walk into a great situation.
"The department has a great foundation laid," he said. "When I started as a member of the department, we had 22 dedicated volunteers along with an ISO rating of Class 7. When I was hired full time as fire chief, we had four full time employees along with 20 dedicated volunteers and an ISO rating of Class 5."
Cox added, "Today we have 48 highly trained professional full time employees. They operate from three stations throughout the city with staffing on duty 24-hours a day, and an ISO rating of Class 3. We have made great strides within our city for the protection of our residents. The department is in a position to be evaluated again by ISO and should be able to reach Class 1 or 2 for fire protection."
Cox is also a board member of the Boys and Girls Club of Bryant. He plans to "volunteer my services more to them and plan to help them with some of their programs."
"Thanks to the residents of Bryant for allowing me this journey and opportunity to serve as the fire chief," Cox said. "I feel that I am leaving the department in better shape than when I started and I am proud of what we have accomplished by working together. May God please continue to watch over the great City of Bryant."