NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The chief of the Nashville Fire Department announced Friday his intention to retire, just two weeks after a DUI arrest in Columbia.
Rick White, 62, will retire at the end of the month after a nearly 40-year career in public service.
He was arrested on Oct. 17 after a police report states he as stopped for making a U-turn and tried to go the wrong way on Bear Creek Pike. The report also says vodka was found inside his car, failed a field sobriety test, and agreed to a blood test.
In a statement to News 2, Mayor Megan Barry said, “Earlier this year, Chief White informed me that he would be seeking retirement by 2018. This week, he informed me of his arrest on DUI charges and asked to take leave and accelerate his retirement plans. I accepted his decision so that he may seek any help he might need while ensuring the Fire Department was in good hands with Chief Swann.”
White, a native Nashvillian, first joined the Nashville Fire Department as a firefighter in February of 1978. He was appointed Interim Chief in 2013 and named Director Chief in 2016.
He also served as a firefighter, fire engineer, fire instructor, captain of the Hazardous Materials Team, district chief of special operations and assistant chief of the Urban Search and Rescue Team.
“When I came on this job, all I wanted to be was a good firefighter. It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve with Nashville’s bravest over the last 40 years,” said Chief White. “I greatly appreciate the opportunity given to me by Mayors Dean and Barry to serve as Chief these past few years, and I want to thank all of the members of the Nashville Fire Department who worked with me during my career to make ours one of the best departments in the nation.”
Mayor Megan Barry has appointed Commander William Swann to serve as Interim Director Chief.
Swann is currently the Deputy Director and Chief of Staff and has led the Office of Emergency Management within the department.
Interim Chief Swann’s appointment will take effect immediately as Chief White will be taking accumulated leave prior to his retirement later this month.