Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has announced that Fire Chief Mark McLees and Deputy Chief Charlie Duffy plan to retire next month.
In a press release early Tuesday afternoon, Miner said McLees and Duffy have informed her of their intent to retire together in mid-March. She says they told her of their decisions last week, and it came as a surprise.
"Running a large department is a difficult job and they have done it well. The Chiefs have both enjoyed distinguished careers in the fire service, rising through the ranks to positions of leadership. I want to thank them on behalf of the citizens they have served here in Syracuse for more than a half century. Their duties require 24/7 vigilance, and they deserve our appreciation," said Miner.
Miner's office says Chief McLees joined Syracuse Fire Department in the mid-1980s and was promoted to District Chief in 2001. He is a fire safety educator and certified fire instructor and has been a professor at the New York State Fire Academy. He has been with the department for 27 years.
"Thank you for allowing me to serve the citizens of the city of Syracuse as a member of the fire department for nearly 28 years," said McLees. "It was an honor and privilege to be a part of the greatest fire department in the country."
"I am profoundly grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of the team which makes up the Syracuse Fire Department." said Duffy, a 28 year veteran. "There may be firefighters as dedicated but none better. Thank you."
Successors to Duffy have not been announced. In her statement, Miner said "In the weeks ahead I will begin looking for the next generation of leadership for the fire department. That new leader will take over a talented and dedicated department that, like all city services, is entered a new and challenging time."