Nearly eight months after embarking on a search to find a new leader for the city's Fire Department, Cambridge officials have selected 29-year veteran firefighter Kevin Fitzgerald to replace retiring fire chief Thomas Scott.
City Manager Robert W. Healy chose Fitzgerald, the highest scorer on a state-administered civil service exam, after interviewing him twice, city officials said this week. He passed over two other deputy chiefs who were finalists for the position.
"I've been wanting this job since I was a little kid, said Fitzgerald, 55, who grew up in Cambridge. He said he hopes to be "a fire fighter's fire chief and a good leader."
City officials described Fitzgerald, who will take over the department's management after Scott retires on March 31, as a hard worker who will devote time and energy to his job managing the department's nine stations and more than 280 employees.
Michael P. Gardner, director of personnel and labor relations for Cambridge, said he thought Fitzgerald was "sincere, diligent and committed to excellence within the department."
And Capt. Gerald R. Reardon of the Cambridge Fire Department called Fitzgerald "very dedicated."
Fitzgerald said that firefighting has something of a history in his family, explaining that father also worked for the department. He said he has worked for the department since 1961.
Fitzgerald, who serves as the department's chief arson investigator, said that he foresees no major changes. He said the department runs smoothly and responds efficiently to about 12,000 incidents every year.
Fears and Finances
The incoming chief said that his greatest task will be to continue to maintain the department's quality in a tightening economic climate. "So far, the city has been able to finance the improvement of the department very well," he said.
Fitzgerald also expressed concern for his fire crews, citing a recent study which found firefighting to be the most dangerous profession in the country. He said that 60 to 65 percent of Cambridge firefighters are injured each year.
Still, Fitzgerald said, "I don't feel stress like some people do."