D.C. Fire and EMS Chief Gregory Dean is retiring from the department, and Mayor Muriel Bowser has nominated Assistant Chief John Donnelly to take the helm.
While Bowser tapped outsider Dean to lead the fire department five years ago, Donnelly is a 28-year veteran of D.C. Fire & EMS. He's been number two in the department for years.
"It had been my dream," Donnelly said of joining the department in 1992. "... I had no clue that one day I could become the Fire & EMS chief. I was just worried about not messing up that first day."
Dean came to D.C. from Seattle, Washington, after Bowser said they "coaxed" him from one Washington to another.
"I think he thought that he was retired then," Bowser quipped.
Calling him "the best fire chief in the world," Bowser thanked Dean for his service. Before Dean took over, the D.C. fire department was seen as being in crisis, still reeling from the death of Medric Mills, who died across from a D.C. firehouse after firefighters refused to provide aid. There were also other major problems with the department when Dean took over.
On Friday, Dean and Bowser looked back on what they see as his accomplishments.
"Over these past five years, Chief Dean has improved our fleet, transformed the cadet program and spearheaded innovative initiatives that keep our community engaged, like the Hands On Hearts CPR program," Bowser said.
Bowser also praised Dean for his response to the coronavirus pandemic, which included quickly training first responders.
Dean told reporters he would have retired in the spring but stayed on due to the pandemic. He's leaving now so the new chief will be in place in time to submit the department's next budget.
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"My last words are that this is a great department, and I thank you for allowing me to be a part of your history," Dean said.