HARTFORD —— Hartford Fire Chief Edward Casares Jr. will retire effective June 15, city officials said Monday.
Casares handed in his retirement letter late last week, said Maribel La Luz, Mayor Pedro Segarra's spokeswoman. She said Casares was not forced out of the position. "His decision was his own," she said. "He will be missed."
Casares, 54, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday. Assistant Fire Chief Carlos Huertas will serve as acting fire chief until a permanent replacement is named, city officials said.
Casares, who moved to Hartford from Chicago when he was 10, became the city's 36th fire chief — and first Latino to hold the position — in April 2010. He served 33 years with the fire department.
Prior to his appointment as chief, Casares had been fire marshal since 2006. He succeeded former Chief Charles A. Teale.
Casares told the Courant in 2009 that he was inspired to become a firefighter by the death in 1979 of Julio Lozado, a 12-year-old boy who was trapped in a collapsed building. Neighbors at the scene tried to tell firefighters what was happening, but none of the firefighters spoke Spanish. Lozado's death resulted in a departmental push to hire more Spanish-speaking firefighters.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the residents and visitors of the city I love so much," Casares said in a prepared statement Monday. "I owe much of my success to Hartford and in one capacity or another; I will always be its servant."
Segarra called Casares a "friend and true supporter of the city."
"While we knew this announcement would someday come, it is still surreal," Segarra said, also in a prepared statement. "Chief Casares is a respected veteran among his colleagues and a constant advocate in the community. The department has advanced dramatically under his leadership and the professionalism he brings to the job is palpable."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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