After nearly 35 years with Tampa Fire Rescue, Chief Thomas Forward is retiring.
- Forward first appointed chief by then-Mayor Pam Iorio
- Asked to stay on when Mayor Buckhorn took office
- No decision yet on replacement
"May 18th, 2018," Forward said, referring to his planned last day on the job. "It's a lovely thing."
Within his 35 years with the agency, Forward rose through the ranks. He was first appointed to lead the department under then-Mayor Pam Iorio.
Later, he was asked to stay on as chief when Mayor Bob Buckhorn took office.
"I've loved having him as chief," Buckhorn said. "He's been a great face of Tampa Fire Rescue. I think he's done a great job."
Forward said he's proud of the department, and that diversity has been one of his biggest accomplishments there.
"From entry level, to supervisory level to mid-level management to administration you'll see a very diverse workforce," said Forward.
However, there have also been problems within that workforce. Recently, the city of Tampa lost a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by a female firefighter, Tanja Vidovic, who was awarded $245,000.
Both Buckhorn and Forward insist the timing of Forward's retirement has nothing to do with that lawsuit or its result.
"That's a ruling that the courts made," Forward said. "This organization will be in lock step and we will move accordingly."
Forward has talked about retirement before. After 8 years as chief, he and his family said it's just time.
"Whatever operation, whatever initiative we were driving, I wanted to see it though completion," Forward said. "Well, you come to a point when you realize there's always going to be a new initiative, there's always going to be this new thing that's going on, so in reality, you're never ever going to finish everything, so you have to pick a time."
As for who will replace the outgoing chief, Buckhorn said he has not made a decision yet, but that there are qualified firefighters within the department who can handle the job.