Fort Wayne Fire Chief Pete X. Kelly will retire from the post effective Aug.3 after nearly 30 years with the department, city officials said Friday.
Mayor Tom Henry plans to choose Kelly's successor in the near future, he said in a statement. Kelly started with the department as a firefighter in the mid-1980s and gradually rose through the ranks, serving as a deputy chief for seven years before being named chief by former Mayor Graham Richard in 2007.
"The biggest honor has been working with a lot of great firefighters here, and I mean that sincerely," said Kelly, adding he had "a lot of mixed emotions" about leaving the department.
Henry praised Kelly in the statement, calling him a "firefighter's firefighter" who always put his men and women first. The mayor also gave Kelly credit for helping with a list of achievements including the merger of Fort Wayne and Allen County 911 operations and the co-location of city-county police headquarters.
Kelly said he was especially proud of keeping the department's equipment and technology up to date despite hard fiscal circumstances. His last major task will be completing the roughly $15 million upgrade of city and county public safety radio equipment, he said.
During his time with the department, Kelly also has seen disasters bring firefighters together and help them sharpen their ability to keep the public safe, he said, reflecting on the huge Bowser Avenue tire fire in 1997 and the blaze in October that wiped out the Momper Insulation building.
"We learn from every fire, but the big ones, we really sit back and assess how we can do things better," he said.
Kelly said Friday he doesn't have plans to take a job elsewhere and will stay in the Fort Wayne area. His wife, city Controller Pat Roller, will continue working for the mayor, Kelly said.
"We'll see what the future brings. I don't have anything planned right now," Kelly said.
As the city's chief financial officer, Roller is one of the most powerful officials in Henry's administration. She tendered her resignation in 2008 after four years at the post but later agreed to stay on.
Kelly declined to talk about who might succeed him, saying he would leave that decision up to the mayor.
"The future's in good hands," he said. "That's not going to be any of my concern."