In the letter, Rowell wrote he was resigning, "in order to pursue other opportunities and interests."
Rowell noted the narrow failure of the police and fire pension sales tax and wrote, "I am proud and stand in awe at the dedication of the men and women of this Department who continue to give whatever it takes to keep this community safe."
Rowell also issued what could be considered as a warning:
"There are choices this community faces now that will determine whether this level of protection will continue. Part of my job has been to identify the risks that could impact the community and provide the details of how to plan to respond to them. The Council and the citizens of this community must decide what level of protection is desired, and at what cost. Keep in mind the single greatest resource and the greatest expense of any emergency agency are its personnel. There is no way to provide the level of protection we have come to expect with any fewer personnel."
Following is an excerpt of the City's news release:
"Springfield Fire Chief Barry Rowell has submitted his intention to retire, effective in June, after working for the City for nearly 25 years, including serving as Chief since June 2007.
Chief Rowell has served the department as a Firefighter, Rescue and Salvage Specialist, Captain, Battalion Chief, and he has held Assistant Chief responsibilities for both technical services and operations.
During his tenure as Fire Chief, the Springfield Fire Department achieved accreditation by the Center for Public Safety Excellence in 2008, which was the culmination of a six-year process that Rowell supervised prior to being named Fire Chief. Springfield is the only metropolitan department in Missouri to hold the accreditation and one of only 123 of some 30,000 departments across the nation to receive this accreditation.
The Springfield Fire Department also received a satisfaction rate of 86 percent on the 2008 Citizens Survey, which was the highest level cited for any City service. In 2008, Fire Department employees documented 18 instances where they were able to save lives during 14 medical emergencies, three fires and one water rescue.
"I am proud and stand in awe at the dedication of the men and women of this department who continue to give whatever it takes to keep this community safe," Rowell said. Rowell also coordinated the Fire Department's response to the January 2007 ice storm, during which no lives were lost in Springfield related to the natural disaster emergency response. He served the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a community-relations representatives by helping relocate Hurricane Katrina victims in 2005.
City Manager Greg Burris said he will make an exception to the ongoing City General Fund hiring freeze to fill the Chief's position before his retirement is effective by leaving open another administrative position in the Department.
"It didn't take long for me to develop a deep respect for Chief Rowell," Burris said. "He's a solid, well-trained leader possessing a quiet confidence. Barry is respected by the Fire Department staff, City administrators, and the community. I congratulate the Chief on his professional successes, but am sorry to see him leave. He will be missed.""
News releases from the City of Springfield can be accessed at the City Web site (http://www.springfieldmo.gov), where additional biographical information is also available through this link: