Essex Fire Chief Ed Pillon will retire at the end of 2014.

The Town of Essex made the announcement Wednesday.

Pillon has 45 years of fire service to his credit.

He is currently the longest serving member of Essex Fire and Rescue Services.

The announcement comes a month after Pillon was recognized for his long fire service at the annual investiture ceremony hosted by the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office.

“I have decided it’s time to start my retirement and I’m looking forward to spending more time with my wife, children, and beautiful grandchildren,” Pillon said in a media release. “I am very proud of the work we’ve done to enhance fire service in our municipality and I’m confident that a new fire chief, when hired, will be equally proud of our fire and rescue service and the dedicated volunteers and families that make up our team.”

Pillon started his lifelong career in the fire service in 1968, serving alongside his father in Malden Township. He moved to Harrow in 1974 and joined the Harrow-Colchester South Fire Department, where he was promoted to captain in 1992 and deputy chief in 1994.

After municipal amalgamation in 1999, Pillon served as District Chief of Essex Station No. 3 in Harrow until he was named acting fire chief in 2003, assuming the role on a permanent basis in April 2004 and adding the position of emergency management coordinator to his responsibilities.

Deputy fire chief Rick Malott called Pillon “by far, one of the most progressive fire chiefs in Ontario.”

“His leadership has resulted in many technological and operational improvements, including the addition of mobile laptops in all vehicles and widespread access to mapping and information resources for fighting increasingly more complicated fires,” Malott said in the same release. “Plus, he’s a master of putting the proper people in place, giving them the tools they need to do the job, and supporting them to get results.”

Essex Mayor Ron McDermott called Pillon "a leader and mentor to hundreds of local firefighters."

“Ed Pillon’s commitment to community safety has been invaluable to the Town of Essex,” says Mayor Ron McDermott. “Ed has seen his department and our community through some very difficult times. We thank him for his commitment and wish him and his family all the best in his well-deserved retirement.”

Recruitment advertisements for the position of Fire Chief will run in local newspapers and on municipal and fire administration websites starting the week of July 28.

The selection committee will conduct an initial round of interviews, followed by a short-listing process and a second round of interviews.

A mid-November start date for the new fire chief will allow some overlap with Pillon.