Photo by William Tauro

Mayor Curtatone lauds Kelleher for distinguished service

SOMERVILLE-After 37 and one-half years of distinguished service with the
Somerville Fire Department and 18 and one-half years at the helm of the
department, Fire Chief Kevin Kelleher, whose official title is Chief
Engineer of the Somerville Fire Department, will be retiring as of May
16, 2015, announced Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone.

“Chief Kelleher was a civil servant whose dream was to be a fire
fighter, and as he pursued that goal, our whole city benefitted. Having
this dedicated, tireless, forward-thinking civil servant lead our fire
department into the 21st century, has made our community safer, our
safety policies smarter, and emergency response capabilities broader,”
said Mayor Curtatone. “But Chief Kelleher didn’t just manage
strategically, he knew our streets. This was a hands-on Chief who was at
every fire scene and who personally drove every snow-covered street
repeatedly this winter to ensure passage was clear for emergency
vehicles. In short, he made our community safer and he deserves our
community’s highest gratitude for that. I cannot speak highly enough of
his commitment and contribution to our community, and I wish him all the
best in his well-deserved and hard-earned retirement.”

Kelleher joined the Somerville Fire Department in Oct. 1977, and rose
through the ranks to eventually become Chief in 1997. His 18 years as
Chief, make him the longest serving chief in the Metro Fire Region.
During his tenure as Chief Fire Engineer, he worked to modernize
equipment and procedures and among other advancements, introduced
data-based management and safety analysis, hiring the department’s first
ever fire data analyst. Kelleher spearheaded the effort to establish
Rescue Company 1, which expanded the department’s ability to respond to
major and complex emergencies including building collapse. Under his
leadership, the department was also selected to join the Metro Boston
Homeland Secure Region, which provides coordinated regional responses to
major emergencies in the metro area.

“Chief Kelleher is a consummate professional who deservedly rose through
the ranks and who has steadily moved the department forward, even right
up to the very end as he initiated the creation of a new,
state-of-the-art headquarters that will provide the proper training
facilities and a centrally located homebase for our crews,” said
Alderman At Large Jack Connolly, Chair of the Public Health and Public
Safety Committee. “Wherever there was an opportunity for improvements
and enhancements whether it was in acquiring specialized training for
crews, ensuring the community was reminded of safety precautions, or
transforming the department’s data analysis capabilities, Kelleher was
sure to spot it and then make it happen. This has been 37 years of a job
well done.”

Mayor Curtatone is currently considering several candidates to serve as
provisional Chief Fire Engineer until a new Chief is hired. The City
will be working with the State Human Resources Division on the selection
process for a new chief.

“Right from the start, the Chief was always a go getter,” said Deputy
Fire Chief Patrick Sullivan. “He was very dedicated to the fire service.
When he first started out, he used to chase fires in other communities
to observe their response techniques and learn from their approaches.
And eventually, he put Somerville on a playing field equal to that of
Boston when it comes to emergency response. We are now a major player in
emergency response in the region thanks to his efforts, especially with
bringing in Rescue 1. It has been an honor to work with him, and it will
be an honor to see the department through this transition.”


  1. Chief Kelleher, I applaud your commitment to protect the citizens of Somerville as well as the region. The improvements to fire safety under your tenure for the citizens and firefighters alike is your legacy.
    Thanks for leading the companies that keep us safe everyday.
    With gratitude – Charlie Ciano

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