Peter Skerry has announced that he will step down as chief of the Brookline Fire Department next month, leaving the town to look for its fifth fire chief in a decade.
Skerry, a career firefighter who has held the top job for three years, said he would leave the helm April 17 and take a brief vacation before looking for another job. He said the move was completely voluntary.
“It’s been great, but it’s my decision and my decision only,” the chief told Brookline Patch this afternoon.
Skerry joined the department in 1982 and took over as chief temporarily in 2003 after the resignation of Chief John Spillane. He accepted the post permanently after the retirement of Chief John Green in 2007 and has overseen the department through some of the toughest budget challenges since the passage of Proposition 2.5.
"I’ve really had the greatest admiration for the way you handled some of the very difficult challenges we've faced," Selectmen Dick Benka told the chief at a hearing tonight. "You are, and have been, a credit to the department."
Town Administrator Mel Kleckner said the chief formally announced his retirement in a letter dated Feb. 18, adding that he was “disappointed” with his decision.
“He’s had a great career, and a long career, and so I’m happy for him,” he said. “But it will be a big loss for the town. He was a great chief.”
Kleckner said he will meet with the town’s human resources director later this week to discuss the search and hiring process for the next chief. He said he would likely form as a search committee to gather applicants before recommending a single candidate to the Board of Selectmen, which has final authority over the hiring of nearly all department heads in town.
The town may draw candidates from both within the Fire Department and outside the town, Kleckner said. He added that it would be a “competitive and open process.”
He said he has not made plans for naming an interim chief if a replacement is not named by April 17.
“I need to understand a little more about the timing of the process before I can make that decision,” said Kleckner, who took over as town administrator last fall.
Look for a full story on Chief Peter Skerry’s career with the Brookline Fire Department later this week.