CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – After 30 years, Chapel Hill Fire Department Chief Vencelin Harris is retiring in July, the Town of Chapel Hill announced Friday.

“It is with mixed emotions that I am announcing my decision to retire from the Town of Chapel Hill effective July 1, 2023,” Chief Harris said. “After many conversations with my family last spring, we decided that it is time for us to start the next journey in our lives.”

Before accepting his role as chief, Harris was an emergency management coordinator for Chapel Hill. He led the Town’s efforts to prepare for and respond to major emergencies. He was also a firefighter and battalion chief for the Town as well.

“It will be hard to replace the institutional knowledge that Chief Harris will take with him,” Interim Town Manager Chris Blue said. “We all appreciate his dedicated service to our community for nearly three decades and I look forward to celebrating his numerous achievements in the coming months.”

Blue said the Town will begin searching for his replacement immediately.