NICHOLS HILLS — He lost a good friend and his fire chief last week, and now Terry Hamilton is stepping up to succeed his former boss.
Hamilton, 54, was the deputy fire chief when Fire Chief Keith Bryan was shot to death Sept. 20. Hamilton was promoted to fire chief Wednesday by City Manager David Poole.
Hamilton has worked for Nichols Hills since May 1981. He started as a firefighter and became assistant chief in 2004. Bryan started as a Nichols Hills firefighter in 1980 and became chief in 1991.
“He was a close friend of mine,” Hamilton said. “We came up through the ranks all the way.”
Bryan's wife, Becky, has been jailed in connection with her husband's death. Hamilton said he knows Becky Bryan and said his children were raised around the Bryans' two boys.
“I'm still kind of dumbfounded, and I hope it comes out the best as it can for her,” Hamilton said.
Since Bryan's death, Hamilton said he has been “really busy and that has helped.”
Another Nichols Hills firefighter will be promoted to deputy chief. The department has 14 firefighters, including the deputy and chief.
“The fire department is pretty structured and we pretty much know what needs to be done as far as getting the fire department in place,” Hamilton said. “We know how to do that. It is just hard work to get there.”
Counseling is available to firefighters as needed, he said.
In a statement, Nichols Hills Mayor Sody Clements said city officials are “very pleased that Terry Hamilton has been named new fire chief. Keith Bryan was wise to have had him as assistant chief. Terry has stepped forward on many city issues previously, demonstrating his leadership and dedication. I'm very proud of the firefighters and all city employees who have rallied around Terry following the tragic death of Keith Bryan.”