Veteran firefighter Tim Arnold will be the new chief of the Van Buren Fire Department, replacing a retiring Jerry McAdoo.

"I hope I can be as good as Jerry at representing our men and our city," Arnold said Monday.

McAdoo announced Thursday his retirement, effective July 1.

"I have been blessed to serve 26-and-a-half years within the Van Buren Fire Department with some of the most caring, dedicated men I have ever been associated with," McAdoo said. "The last 13-plus years as chief of the department has been a real challenge. We have had great progress and success due to the support, dedication and professionalism of the fire department personnel."

McAdoo said the VBFD has had great support from Mayor Bob Freeman and the city council.

"I have been truly blessed," McAdoo said. "I look for continued progress for the safety of the firefighters and the public they serve. It has always been my hope and goal to strive for the city of Van Buren to have a professional fire department and not just a token. We have came a long way and I am very proud to leave it in the hands of someone that will carry on the same goals."

Under McAdoo’s leadership, Freeman said the fire department has obtained and retains an ISO rating of two for the city as well as the construction of a new fire station, updates of equipment and the addition of personnel.

"It has been my privilege to have Chief McAdoo serve alongside me the entire time that I have been the mayor," Freeman said.

Arnold, 53, currently serves as the battalion chief for the fire department. He is a 1981 graduate of Van Buren and has an associate’s degree in fire protection from Garland County Community College in Hot Springs.

He began working for the Van Buren Fire Department Feb. 15, 1989. He was a firefighter for four years, driver for seven years and captain for seven years before serving the last 11 as battalion chief. He also was a training officer under former chief Bobby Gilstrap.

"The fire department is in really good shape," Anrold said. "Jerry has worked hard and I plan to continue on the department’s current path. It is a progressive department with good people and good equipment."

Freeman pointed out Arnold has worked his way up through all positions on the line.

"I have worked with him on a regular basis over the past 10 years and I feel he can carry forward with the leadership of the fire department and service to the City of Van Buren," Freeman said.

Arnold and his wife, Ruby, also a native of Van Buren, have three children, Billy, Kyle and Ryan.

Arnold pointed out he and McAdoo have had a good ride together.

"I have enjoyed standing with Jerry and fighting the good fight," Arnold said. "Jerry has accomplished more for this fire department than anyone could have expected and he did it with class and integrity. The City of Van Buren and the fire department in particular has lost a dedicated asset."

Marvin Stout, who worked with McAdoo for 21 years, said the retiring chief has been a great friend and mentor.

"His corner in my office sure will be empty and lonely," Stout said. "I’ll miss him but hope he enjoys his retirement because he deserves it."

City Clerk Barbie Curtis said McAdoo has been a great chief and example for the department and the city.

Dale Gilstrap said McAdoo has been one in a line of great chiefs for the City of Van Buren.

"I have been truly blessed," McAdoo said. "Carry on, my brothers, as I know you will."