John “Jack” Dempsey, who has been commissioner of the Boston Fire Department since 2020 and served in the department since April 1986, will retire at the end of the month.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to have been the commissioner of the Boston Fire Department,” Dempsey told GBH News. “There’s no greater job I could think of.”
The outgoing commissioner declined to disclose who he has recommended for the role, but said the mayor is interviewing candidates for his replacement.
“I’m old,” he said with a chuckle. “I’m 65. Firefighters have to retire at the age of 65, so here I am.”
Dempsey, who was appointed to the role of commissioner by former mayor and current U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, confirmed his retirement after Mayor Michelle Wu acknowledged his “final few days” in the job during remarks at a memorial service marking the 50th anniversary of the Back Bay Vendome Hotel fire of 1972.
The incident claimed the lives of nine firefighters and remains the most fatal fire in the department’s history.
“I’m so grateful to Commissioner Jack Dempsey,” Wu said at the memorial service. “Thank you so much for all that you’ve done to steer our city and our department through such difficult years.”
Dempsey shrugged and smiled when asked about the mayor revealing his departure.
“I didn’t officially announce it, but it’s leaked out, I guess,” he said.