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Nassau County fire chief retires amid questions

Chief Matt Graves leaves post instead of facing possible firing

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – The Nassau County fire chief retired Friday, not long after being told he would soon be out of a job.

During a meeting Thursday between Chief Matt Graves and Assistant County Manager Justin Stankiewicz, it was decided that Graves would be leaving his post at “an unspecified time,”  Stankiewicz said Thursday.

The next day, Graves announced he was retiring from the department. County officials won't explain what led to the decision, but sources indicated it was prompted by a series of events.

County commissioners declined to comment Friday.

Despite the decision coming on the heels of a massive Bryceville wildfire, Stankiewicz denied the two were connected.

“Absolutely not. We are very proud of the way our fire department handle that,” Stankiewicz said. “To maintain that size -- 700 acres -- fire the way they did it, that was phenomenal. They did a fantastic job. The board echoes that thought, so we have no issue with the way the Bryceville fire was handled.”

Stankiewicz said the county's firefighters did a fine job. 

Graves had been the chief since 2011, and had been with the department for 18 years. His salary as chief was $85,000, and he is eligible for a pension with the Florida Retirement System.

The county has no timeline to replace Graves and will not be appointing an interim chief. The assistant chief will handle Graves' duties in connection with county management.

News4Jax has contacted Graves for comment and will update this article if he responds.