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City Of Albany Swears In New Fire Chief

WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

There’s another new face in Albany city government:  at City Hall today Mayor Kathy Sheehan swore in a new Albany Fire Chief.

He's a fourth generation firefighter and a 42-year fire department veteran: Warren Abriel Jr. is the new Chief of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.   "We are entering a time where we're facing severe economic crisis. I'm sure that the next several years will be difficult. All of us need to work together if we are to overcome these obstacles. We will however, continue to provide the unsurpassed service that we've always given to the citizens of Albany. I am hopeful that any changes that we may need to make will make us a better department and better firefighters."

Mayor Sheehan:  "Executive Deputy Chief Warren Abriel traces his family's tradition of service back to his great-grandfather Reuben, who joined the department when it was professionalized, shortly after the end of the civil war in 1867. It is only fitting, that after nearly 150 years of service to the fire department, an Abriel should lead this department as its chief. But Warren's lineage is not the reason that I appointed him to be our new chief, or that our common council unanimously approved that appointment. From the time he was first sworn in as a member of this department in 1972, Warren has embraced the fire service as a life-long learning opportunity."

Abriel has an associate’s degree in fire protection technology, a bachelor's degree in fire service administration and a master's degree in public administration.  He is a certified Hazardous Materials Technician, and for the last 26 years Abriel has been an adjunct professor at Empire State College.

The mayor says about a dozen new firefighters are scheduled to be sworn in at City Hall later this week.  "The reason that we need to bring them on is because once the summer hits, then people start vacations. If we do not have a full complement of firefighters, then we do start to rack up overtime costs.”

Chief Warren Abriel Jr. had been acting fire chief since Robert Forezzi retired at the end of last year after nearly four decades in the department.

Made up of 16 companies, the department has 245 members.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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