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Three aim to be named next Aurora Fire Chief

AurorFire Department Chief Hal Carlsaccepts folded American flag from fire department color guard member duriing Sept. 11 ceremony AurorCentral Fire

Aurora Fire Department Chief Hal Carlson accepts a folded American flag from a fire department color guard member duriing a Sept. 11 ceremony at the Aurora Central Fire Station Friday morning, Sep. 9, 2011. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 30, 2012 3:48PM

AURORA — Three fire leaders have thrown their hat in the ring to replace Aurora Fire Chief Hal Carlson, who announced his retirement late Tuesday.

Carlson declined to name the three that will be considered for the top fire post, but said that all three are current members of the Aurora Fire Department. Carlson said he relayed his pick to succeed him to Mayor Tom Weisner, who will appoint the next chief.

Carlson, 60, will retire today after 30 years with the department, the last four as chief. He plans to stay in Aurora.

From his three decades on the job, Carlson said he will most remember the big fires that began and ended his tenure — the Christmas Eve Stove Works fire in 1983, and the Claim Street fire in 2011 — and an ambulance call where they had to rescue an 800-pound man.

He joined the force in what he expected to be a “temporary job” when then economy took a toll on his career as a manufacturing rep in the late 1970s.

Carlson said Tuesday night he was honored to serve the city and called the Aurora Fire Department “one of the best departments in the country.”

Carlson is retiring now to address some family matters. He said he won’t miss the “heavy burden, heavy responsibility” as chief.

“It will be nice to just be able to walk out of the door, not have to carry a phone or a radio,” Carlson said. “It was a very, very rewarding job but as you move up the chain it’s less (firefighting), more putting out ‘people fires.’”

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