Tobias retires after 35 years with fire department

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- After 35 years with Sarasota County's Fire Department, Chief Mike Tobias is saying goodbye.

Friday marked the 59-year-old's last day at the department.

"A lot of mixed emotions. I hate to see all the good times and everything I've had here be put in the past. I have made a lot of good friends and I've met a lot of good people," Tobias said.

Tobias says his most memorable moment was years ago when he delivered a baby on a call. "Watching new life come into to the world is remarkable," said Tobias.

Tobias says his biggest accomplishment was being an instrumental part in the county's decision to build a new Emergency Operations Center. It's expected to open next year.  "That has been something we have needed for a long time, and it will serve the citizens for the next 40-50 years," he said.

On his last day, Tobias provided some words of wisdom to his replacement.

"Focus on your people," he said. "Make sure you keep them happy, well equipped and able to do the job they want to do."

Tobias has sold his home and will be living the rest of his life on the road. He and his wife have purchased an RV, and will be traveling the country in the years ahead.

A search for the county's next Fire Chief is expected to conclude soon.