Charleston Fire Chief Carr hospitalized; retirement party postponed

Thomas Carr

Charleston Fire Chief Thomas Carr has been hospitalized with complications from Parkinson's disease and a retirement party planned for Friday has been postponed, city officials said.

Carr, 57, checked into Medical University Hospital over the weekend for treatment, and it is unknown how long he will be there, fire department spokesman Mark Ruppel said. Ruppel said he had no more information on Carr's condition. The hospital would not provide information on the chief.

Friday is Carr's last day on the job, and a party in his honor was to have been held at the Charleston Maritime Center. The event, which was open to the public, has been postponed indefinitely, Ruppel said.

Deputy Fire Chief Frank Finley will serve as interim chief until Carr's successor is chosen. The city launched a nationwide search in December to find a new fire chief to lead the 319-person department. Oregon-based Emergency Services Consulting International is assisting with the search.

The application process for the job closed Feb. 17, Ruppel said. It was not immediately known when a new chief will be selected.

Carr announced his retirement plans in September, citing of the effects of the aggressive, debilitating illness he has been fighting.

Carr became fire chief in November 2008, taking the reins of a department still grieving and rebuilding from the Sofa Super Store blaze that killed nine city firefighters the year before. He is widely credited with adopting modern techniques and standards, as well as charting a more coordinated, regional approach to firefighting.