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Albany Fire Chief Warren Abriel Retires

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan & Albany Fire Chief Warren Abriel address the media in City Hall. (July 18, 2017)
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan & Albany Fire Chief Warren Abriel address the media in City Hall. (July 18, 2017)

Albany said goodbye to its second public safety leader in as many days...  the city’s fire chief was given a walkout ceremony Friday.

Hanging up his helmet after 46 years, Fire Chief Warren Abriel Jr. is retiring from the 245-member Albany Fire Department. Mayor Kathy Sheehan:    "We're losing a legend in Warren Abriel, who has served the department for several decades, who's been a great chief for the last nearly five years."

Abriel had served as acting fire chief from the time Robert Forezzi retired at the end of 2013 after nearly four decades in the department. Abriel announced his retirement earlier this month.    "This is something that he and I had been talking about for several months. He was coming up on one year, in January, the year that he would need to retire because of state law, and so we had a number of conversations around what he wanted to do and when he would be retiring."

Abriel's great-grandfather Reuben Abriel, joined the department as a volunteer, and became one of its first paid members in 1867, the year the AFD was founded.   "I am a 4th generation firefighter. I have three nephews that are 5th generation firefighters. My brother Henry was a captain, my brother Ted was a firefighter on the rescue squad. He died in the line of duty in 2007. I joined the fire department in June 5th, 1972, right after I was discharged from the Navy."

Abriel's walkout ceremony comes the day after Acting Albany police Chief Robert Sears was piped out in a ceremony at police headquarters. Southfield, Michigan Police Chief Eric Hawkins has beentapped by Mayor Sheehan to take over Albany’s police department. Sheehan announced the appointment of Deputy Fire Chief Joseph Gregory as the new chief effective July 29th.   "Joe Gregory has been part of the chief's command staff for a number of years now. He has tremendous experience in the fire service and he is gonna be leading a department that continues, I think, to deliver outstanding professional services to the city of Albany and is very excited about the opportunity."

Sheehan, a second-term Democrat, adds that in line with Gregory's appointment, residents should expect some changes and tweaks to department policies and procedures. She says Gregory will be formally introduced to the community at a future event.

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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