It is with mixed emotions that we announce that Collin DeWitt, our Fire Chief, will be retiring. Dewitt’s civic service career began 40 years ago, in 1973, as a firefighter for the City of Phoenix. During the next 26 years, he served as a paramedic and moved up the ranks to Deputy Chief, a role he retired from on a Friday in August of 1999. Two days later, on a Monday in 1999, he began his service here at the Town of Gilbert.
It was in his blood to serve. His dad was a fire captain in Phoenix. Following in his footsteps, Collin actually became a firefighter to help financially as he earned his degree in Engineering. But it became his life-long passion.
And he’s used that passion to leave a lasting legacy here in Gilbert. During the past 14 years, Chief DeWitt has led the opening of at least seven fire stations, served as the Interim Town Manager for 18 months, and was instrumental in bringing a 1,500-pound steel beam from the World Trade Center to display at our own Town Hall. His leadership will leave an indelible mark. He hired two-thirds of our current fire department workforce and placed crews and stations in deployments so that every area in town could be reachable in four minutes in an emergency.
After being asked to serve by the Town Council in March of 2010, Collin stepped in to serve as the Interim Town Manager. During the next 18 months, he led the Town past a $15 million budget shortfall, two elections and many other departmental and organizational changes.
We’ve had some very personal conversations with Collin in the past few days and here were some thoughts he shared with us that we wanted to share with you.
“I know in my heart it is the right time. Forty years, I’m done. It may sound cute, but I made a decision to retire before my wife could bench press more than I could. I want to enjoy the time with my wife and family. Everything is pointing towards using the rest of my time to be with family, to serve folks in other capacities and to let the fire department take other leadership and be the great thing it can be in the process. I want to keep all of the relationships and get out of the way,” said Chief DeWitt.
Collin is the father to six children and the grandfather to 22, who all live in the East Valley. He’s looking forward to spending the next phase of his life devoted to them. We’re thankful for all he’s devoted to us. His last day as Fire Chief will be May 2nd. He will be missed, but not forgotten.