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Fire official send-off

County firefighters turn out to send off Bill Niccum on his last day

Posted: November 1, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 1, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Retiring Los Angeles County Fire Department Assistant Chief Bill Niccum, right, shakes hands with the firefighters from four local L.A. County fire companies as they turned out to send him off from the Jan Heidt Newhall Metrolink Train Station on Niccum's last day on Wednesday.

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Though he retired Wednesday after about 40 years in the fire service, Los Angeles County Fire Department Assistant Chief Bill Niccum said his most important job still awaits him: that of a full-time father and husband.   

Niccum, 58, has held his position in the Santa Clarita Valley since June 2010. His first assignment with the fire service in 1973 was also in the valley, at Fire Camp Nine above Sand Canyon.    

But Niccum’s ties to the valley run far deeper than his time on the job. A longtime resident who grew up locally, he also attended Hart High School and the College of the Canyons.

“I’ve got a special place in my heart for Santa Clarita,” Niccum said. “To come back as a fire chief, to be able to work with the city and the local communities, has just capped a stellar career in my perspective.”     

Niccum worked in and around Los Angeles County for the majority of his career, and said some of his most memorable moments include responding to the 1992 Los Angeles Riots and being an operations chief on the Buckweed Fire, which burned about 38,000 acres near the Santa Clarita Valley and Agua Dulce in October 2007.    

“I believe that everyone likes to be part of something big,” Niccum said. “I believe the fire service is something big.”

But now, Niccum said, he is looking forward to spending time with his wife and children.

As part of his homeward journey, local Fire Department personnel escorted Niccum to the Metrolink to see him off on Wednesday.  

Stephanie English, a Los Angeles County Fire Department spokeswoman, called Niccum an “incredible asset to the community.”

“He really cares about the community,” English said. “It has been incredible the kind of expertise he’s brought, and the kind of value he places on the work he does.”

But Niccum said the work that still awaits him may be even more valuable.

“How do you walk away from a career of 40 years?” Niccum asked. “I don’t know. But for me, personally, this is my journey home.”

lmoney@the-signal.com

661-287-5525

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