WAUSAU (WAOW) – Wausau Fire Chief Gary Buchberger said Wednesday he will retire early next year after leading the department for 16 years.
“I think I have been a successful chief here,” he said. “We have implemented some real positive and long-lasting things. It is time to move on and see what else is available and let the next generation of fire chief move it even further up.”
Buchberger, 62, said his last day on the job will be Jan. 31.
Buchberger, who grew up on a farm near Mattoon, came to Wausau in 1998 after working in fire suppression for NASA in Houston.
He started his 40-year fire-fighting career in the Air Force, he said.
Buchberger said he has nothing specific planned for his retirement. “I am going to take a little time off right now and see what possibilities may be out there.”
Mayor Jim Tipple called Buchberger an effective fire chief with many accomplishments. “He has some shared service agreements that he has been a part of,” Tipple said. “The department is stronger.”
The city's five-member Police and Fire Commission, which is appointed by the mayor, will hire the new fire chief and will meet Friday to begin the process, Tipple said.
The mayor said he expects an interim fire chief will be named because hiring Buchberger's replacement probably won't occur until March or April.
One of the first decisions the commission must make is whether to use an outside recruiting firm to seek applicants for the job, Tipple said.
Buchberger earned about $105,000 as chief, the mayor said.