By Joe Beck
Winchester Fire Chief Scott Cullers announced retirement plans Monday after more than two years as the department's leader.
Cullers, 59, said his last day of work will be Feb. 23. City officials said an announcement about the appointment of an interim replacement will be made within two weeks.
Cullers said in an interview he was planning to "devote some time to my family after all these years, and I want to do some volunteer work."
He said he also hoped to teach some classes at the National Fire Academy in Maryland.
Cullers' retirement marks the end of a career that began and ended in Winchester. He was hired in Winchester in July 2010 after the retirement of former Chief Frank Wright.
A news release from Amy Simpson, the city's market coordinator, cited a list of accomplishments during Culler's tenure. They included:
- Expanding the scope of the department's vision and making operating practices more regional.
- Fire safety education efforts that reached thousands of people every year, including elementary school students.
- Using a grant to allow the department to install 300 smoke detectors in homes.
- Bettering relationships with the city council and news media.
- New efforts to increase the department's diversity.
City Manager Dale Inman said in a written statement that "Scott has made a tremendous impact during his tenure in Winchester."
"We wish him the best during his retirement," Inman stated.
Cullers joined the department in 1972 as a volunteer firefighter and continued to hold that position for more than 20 years while working as a paid career firefighter in other communities.
He worked in Fairfax County from 1974 until his retirement from that department in 2002. Not long after leaving Fairfax, he joined the Loudon County department as a battalion chief and retired in 2008 as deputy chief of operation.
He rejoined Winchester in 2010 and will be leaving with a variety of memories, good and bad.
"I would estimate I've been on 11,000 to 12,000 calls in my career," Culler said. "I've so many good memories, but I've also seen a lot of sorrow," adding that most of the good memories came from "all the operational people. They do such great jobs."
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or email@example.com