CHICAGO (CBS) — A veteran Chicago firefighter is retiring after 41 years on the job. Batallion Chief James O’Donnell is hanging up his hat; so his friends, family and colleagues bid him farewell Thursday morning at his Edgewater firehouse.

“It’s very emotional. I’ve seen all my old friends and family, and it was a beautiful thing. It’s a beautiful day, and I made some great friends over the years here. Some of my best friends in the world are here,” O’Donnell said.

In his 41 years with the Chicago Fire Department, O’Donnell has seen it all, both at home and beyond. He was one of the Chicago firefighters who went to New York after 9/11 to help first responders in the wake of World Trade Center attacks.

He said the best part of his job was when someone he rescued came back to say thanks. O’Donnell was born and raised in Chicago, and said being a firefighter is the best job in the world.

“This is amazing. I can’t believe how fast 41 years went. It’s like it was yesterday,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell posed for a class picture with his fellow firefighters outside the 9th Battalion firehouse.

What’s next for O’Donnell? He said he’ll travel some, but mostly he just wants to relax.