Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison announced Thursday that he is stepping down to tend to family issues.
Garrison, 56, will return to Phoenix to help with the care of his ailing 20-month-old grandson. He will stay until his replacement is found, Mayor Annise Parker said.
“It’s a great city, a great fire department and the mayor’s one of the best bosses I ever had – I just got to go back home,” Garrison said.
Weekend trips to Arizona, where his wife remained since his hiring in September 2010, are no longer sufficient, he said.
At the time of his hiring, Parker applauded Garrison’s willingness to “re-think why we do things, how we do things, and if there’s a way to do better.”
He made good on that effort and also was able to cut $5 million from the department’s budget, Parker said.
“It is my intent to hire a new fire chief who will continue the initiatives and progress Chief Garrison has made,” Parker wrote in a letter to the City Council, adding that she expects the new chief to come from within theHouston Fire Department.
The department’s deadliest day occurred during Garrison’s short tenure, when four firefighters died charging into a five-alarm motel fire May 31. An investigation of that fire is ongoing.
He said he doubts the decision is tied to the investigation.
“I am sad to see him go. He’s done some great work,” Sky-Eagle said.
Garrison established a recovery committee that helped the department move forward after the deadly fire, he added.
“It’s been most helpful,” he said.
Garrison began his firefighting career in 1977 with the Phoenix Fire Department, rising to assistant chief before leaving in 2007. Garrison served as fire chief for a small community in California from 2007 to 2009 and then served a brief stint as interim chief of a small department near Phoenix.
His family remained in the Phoenix area with unrealized plans to relocate to Houston.