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'It's bittersweet': Macon-Bibb County Fire Chief Marvin Riggins announces retirement, reflects on 12 years as fire chief

Riggins has been with Macon-Bibb County Fire Department for over four decades.

MACON, Ga. — Macon-Bibb County Fire Chief Marvin Riggins says it was "bittersweet" sharing the news to his firefighters as he announced he'll be retiring at the end of this year after over four decades with the fire department and 12 years as Fire Chief. 

Chief Riggins says now is just the right time to retire after 41 years with Macon-Bibb County Fire Department. 

"It's a great place. It is. We have good people in place that are ready to step up to the next level. I think they are prepared mentally, physically, structurally," Riggins said. 

In our interview, Riggins looked back at years with the department, beginning when he was just 18 years old at Station 8.

"I was the youngest troop there, and they treated me as such," Riggins said. "I learned so much from them. I grew up with them." 

He's risen in the ranks a lot since then. He served as a fire private, sergeant, lieutenant, chief of training, and then assistant fire chief in 2000 up until he was appointed by Mayor Robert Reichert in 2008 as fire chief. Riggins took over after Chief Jimmy Hartley retired.

"To come behind him, that was meaningful, that was meaningful to me. He and Chief Henson and I were a good team. It meant a lot. I know it's history, but we did some good things, and I think we'll continue that," Riggins said. 

Mayor Robert Reichert, who appointed Chief Marvin Riggins back in 2008, says Riggins is retiring at the top of his game.

"Chief Riggins has been a wonderful, wonderful fire chief for the last 12 years, he was one of the first department heads i appointed, and he's been one of the best, his service has been unblemished, he received awards both statewide and as well as international awards for being a fire chief," Reichert said. 

Among Riggins many accomplishments as Chief, he was chosen as an International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Career Fire Chief of the Year in 2017 after being nominated by the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs.

He’s also received the President’s Award from both the Georgia State Firefighter’s Association and Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs.

Chief Riggins led the department through a lot over the past 12 years, including consolidation where he says the fire department lost a lot of experienced people.

"Even at that time, I could have left then, but I wanted, I knew we had a good bench. I knew we had some young people that are stars. I really wanted to see them to come to the full front and get to ride these fire trucks. I wanted to see that," Riggins said. 

Riggins believes the department will carry on its excellence by being a Class 1 fire department. He says this is the legacy he hopes to leave behind.

"I care a lot about the people. I'm sure I've been called a stickler for certain things, and that's true. I've been that way because I care," Riggins said.

As for what he'll do in retirement, Chief Riggins told me he really doesn't know yet. He says he loves teaching so he'll probably stick to something like that. 

He says it's going to take a while to use to the transition, especially with his phone not ringing in the middle of the night. 

Mayor-elect Lester Miller says his team does not know who they will appoint as fire chief, but they will be opening an interim fire chief position.

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