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Fire Chief Buchberger on retirement, department's future


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) -- Wausau’s Fire Chief will retire early next year. Gary Buchberger announced Wednesday that he will finish his firefighting career January 31st, after leading the Wausau department for almost sixteen years.

Buchberger began firefighting in 1972. He says he has been considering retirement for a while, but it’s not easy to walk away. “Some days you really want to do it, some days it’s the last thing on your mind. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and decided that it was time.”

The Police and Fire Commission and the city’s personnel department will start the search for Buchberger’s replacement. The Police and Fire Commission meets Friday morning, and could choose an Interim Chief immediately if they want to. Buchberger says he is confident the department will run smoothly when he’s gone. “We always have people that can step in and handle everybody else’s job and it’s no different with me. I have a deputy chief who is absolutely fantastic. He will be able to handle this job with no blips at all, and I’m hopeful that he will apply for a permanent position here.” The Deputy Chief Buchberger refers to is Phillip Rentmeister.

Buchberger has no specific plans for his retirement, except to start with a little rest. “No specific plans at all. You know, I’m going to take a look and see what opportunities are out there, and see what’s available, and just take some time off and decompress for a while.”

When asked if he would consider a future appointment to the Police and Fire Commission, Buchberger said he wouldn’t rule anything out.

The Chief has overseen several changes over the years, from implementing thermal imaging cameras to upgrading the level of paramedic service in the city.

Before coming to Wausau in 1998, Buchberger was a firefighter in the Air Force and for NASA at Houston, Texas.

(Our interview with Chief Gary Buchberger can be heard on our website, here.)