Charleston Fire Chief Thomas Carr has Parkinson’s disease. He made the announcement to staff earlier today and that he will remain the city’s fire chief.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition that impacts motor functions, commonly recognized by tremors or slurred speech.

Carr told reporters this afternoon that the disease has not impacted his critical thinking skills and that he is using medication to reduce the impacts.

Hired in late 2008, Carr has lead the department through drastic reforms in regards to training, equipment, and procedures following the June 2007 Sofa Super Store blaze that killed nine firefighters.

Though he has more than three decades of service as a fire fighter, Carr says retirement has not been an option.

“There’s a lot to do,” he said. “I would be very disappointed if this took me to retirement so quickly.”

Mayor Joe Riley said he has spoken with Carr’s doctor and that he’s been assured Carr can serve as chief for several years.

“His leadership in the fire department has been an enormous benefit to our community,” Riley said.

Carr also suggested that he’d be taking a leading role in researching the link between Parkinson’s and firefighting, concerned that some kind of exposure over the years may have contributed to his condition.

“If this is true, it’s important to minimize that exposure,” he said.

We sat down with Chief Carr last June to talk about the changes to the department.


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