CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Charleston Fire Department officials announced Friday that Deputy Chief William Franklin Finley Jr. will be retiring after 33 years of service.
"I put this uniform on for the last time this morning, so you know it's kind of, kind of bittersweet. I'm looking forward to it, but I'll miss some of it," said Finley.
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley says he watched Finley's career from start to finish.
"Firefighter, engineer, a captain, assistant chief, chief, battalion chief, deputy chief, Chief Finley has always excelled," said Riley.
Finley also served as interim chief before Chief Karen Brack was hired by the city. Those close to Finley say his lasting legacy is the creation of the city HazMat response team.
"There's a growing need for it. The responses have probably double or tripled in the last four or five years," he said.
Finley says the response to hazardous materials was not so simple back in 1992.
"We had the Santa Clara, which was a ship that docked at the ports, that was leaking a hazardous chemical and the city of Charleston did not have people trained to the technician level to go in and mitigate, so we had to rely on other departments," said Finley.
Assistant Chief Raymond Lloyd says Finley had the foresight to lead the department on fighting a new threat.
"When that first came out he basically just said and these are the things that we need to do and led by example and people followed," said Lloyd.
Finley's name will now be permanently attached to the cities first HazMat response engine.