BOSTON — Chief Joesph Finn will be the next commissioner of the Boston Fire Department, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Monday morning.
Walsh said Finn gained his confidence earlier this year when he was the incident commander of a Beacon Street fire which claimed the lives of two firefighters.
“Deputy Chief Finn possesses a broad and impressive understanding of the Boston Fire Department, including personnel, public safety, and administration,” Walsh said in a statement. “Chief Finn’s experience and leadership style, along with his commitment to diversity and fairness, will help move our Fire Department into an even more successful era of service to the people of Boston.”
The 53-year old Finn, after serving in the Marine Corps from 1979 to 1982, joined the Boston Fire Department in 1984. His previous positions include deputy chief of personnel and, most recently, division commander.
Finn said his first order of business will be to formulate a new command staff, and he said building a diverse department is among his priorities.
“Diversity is an issue,” Finn said Monday. “We need to make sure the department is reflective of the citizens they serve.”
Finn says 32 percent of BFD employees are people of color in a city that’s more than 50 percent minority.
Rayshawn Johnson, president of the Boston Society of Vulcans, an organization made up of firefighters of color, said he welcomes Finn’s appointment, but he’s concerned the number of people of color in the department is declining.
“A lot of the older guys are retiring in the next five to 10 years,” Johnson said. “So we’re not getting replaced on the job. So soon enough our numbers are going to dwindle to nothing on the Boston Fire Department.”
Finn said he plans to take action to increase minority representation.
“We need to reach out into minority communities to form partnerships and outreach programs to attract minority veterans and make them aware of the opportunities to become a Boston firefighter,” he said.
The city has been without a permanent commissioner since January, when Roderick Fraser stepped down amid the mayoral transition. Deputy Fire Chief John Hasson has been serving as interim chief since then.
Just months before Fraser’s resignation, Steve Abraira resigned from his position as Boston’s fire chief after deputies were critical of his response to the Boston Marathon bombings.
Residency is an issue for Finn, who currently lives in Quincy. He has a year to move into the city, which he said he will do.