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October 16, 2014 at 2:40 PM

Gregory Dean retiring after 10 years as Seattle fire chief

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Seattle Fire Chief Gregory Dean is retiring after 44 years with the fire department. (Seattle Times file photo)

 

Seattle Fire Chief Gregory Dean announced Thursday he will be retiring at the end of the year — and this time, he won’t be swayed to stay as he was when he first tried to retire a year ago.

Dean, who graduated from Seattle’s Franklin High School and  has spent his entire 44-year career with the Seattle Fire Department, plans to stay in the city.

“I grew up here, this is home. But I will travel and take time just to enjoy life itself — that means golfing,” Dean, 64, said with a chuckle.

There’s no word yet on who will replace Dean, but Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has begun a process to fill the chief’s position that Dean has held since 2004.

Dean, who joined the department in 1970, served as the city’s fire marshal, deputy chief and interim chief.

“Chief Dean demonstrated the highest commitment to public service over a distinguished career here at the City,”  Murray said in a news release. “We salute his devotion to the department and to his firefighters. I wish him the best in the future, even as I know I will miss his steady leadership and wise counsel.”

Dean told the mayor in the early days of the new administration that he was looking forward to retirement, but the mayor convinced him to stay another year, the news release says.

Last week, Murray again asked  Dean to postpone his departure, but this time the chief told the mayor it was time to enjoy a well-deserved retirement.

During his tenure as fire chief of the 1,150-member department, Dean directed the implementation of the Fire Facilities Levy that resulted in the construction and renovation of 32 fire stations, a new Joint Training Facility and new fireboats.

Following a 2010 fire in Fremont that killed a young woman and four children, Dean had fire officials reach out to Seattle’s East African and Asian immigrant communities to increase awareness of fire hazards and fire safety. He said the public-education effort has helped reduce fire deaths in the city, along with fire losses — which are down from an average of $15 million a year to $13 million this year.

Of the 80,000 alarms firefighters responded to this year, 65,000 were for emergency medical responses, Dean said. He said 62 percent of people who suffered “witnessed heart attacks” survived, thanks largely to the quick care they received.

The department’s $179 million budget is being finalized by the City Council, which means that whoever steps into the chief’s job will have time to get to know the department before having to deal with the next budget, Dean said.

According to the city’s news release, Dean’s career has spanned landmark fires and events that dramatically altered the course of the Seattle Fire Department: In the early 1970s, the fatal Ozark Hotel and Seventh Avenue Apartments fires resulted in updated fire and building codes around the nation.

The 1995 Pang warehouse fire killed four Seattle firefighters, the worst firefighter fatality incident in the department’s history.

Comments | More in General news, Government, The Blotter | Topics: Gregory Dean, Seattle Fire Department

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