EW YORK (PIX11) — After decades of service, Commissioner of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Daniel Nigro announced his retirement Friday. 

Nigro’s retirement will be effective Feb. 16. He is the fourth longest serving fire commissioner in the FDNY’s history. 

“Since the day I raised my right hand 53 years ago and followed my father into the greatest fire department in the world, I have been blessed, privileged, and truly honored to serve the people of our great city,” said Nigro. “On days of triumphant rescues and during times of unimaginable loss, the members of the FDNY — our firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, fire marshals, fire inspectors, and civilian staff — have always answered the call. They are extraordinary people and are deeply committed to protecting the lives and property of all New Yorkers. It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as their Fire Commissioner.”

Nigro was appointed the 33rd fire commissioner in June 2014. During his time as commissioner, he oversaw the FDNY’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and executed a recruitment campaign leading to the most diverse group of applicants in the department’s history. Nigro also expanded fire safety education efforts among New Yorkers, including the launch of programs that have installed and distributed thousands of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms citywide.

Nigro also sought to diversify the department and end pervasive racism in its ranks.

Last October, he suspended nine firefighters without pay in connection with a string of racist messages and memes they shared on their phones, including ones that mocked the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.

The fire department called the suspensions the most severe punishments ever handed down in the history of the Fire Department of the City of New York, but some Black firefighters said they didn’t go far enough.

At the same time, the department said it has welcomed historically diverse classes into its academy and now has more women and firefighters of color than ever before.

Nigro’s biggest challenge as commissioner was leading the fire department through the chaotic, early days of the pandemic — the busiest stretch in the history of the city’s EMS operation. For a time, FDNY ambulances were responding to about 6,000 calls a day — more than 50% more than average and far exceeding the demand on 9/11.

He was appointed a firefighter in 1969 and rise through the ranks of the FDNY in the next 32 years. He was later appointed Chief of Department following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. There, he was responsible for overseeing all rescue and recovery operations at the World Trade Center site.

Nigro had retired from the deparement in 2002, but later returned in 2014 as fire commissioner.

Mayor Eric Adams, who took office Jan. 1 and was with Nigro at the scene of a Bronx apartment blaze that killed 17 people on Jan. 9, called the retiring commissioner a “tireless champion for New Yorkers, and a friend who I’ve leaned on time and again.”

“Dan and I have had an amazing relationship over our long careers in public service. He’s a tireless champion for New Yorkers, and a friend who I’ve leaned on time and again,” said Mayor Eric Adams. “From overseeing the heroic 9/11 rescue and recovery efforts to leading the FDNY’s unwavering response during the pandemic, Dan has worked tirelessly to protect all New Yorkers. New Yorkers, whether they know it or not, are all safer because of the work he’s done and owe him their thanks. Dan defines public service and will be deeply missed by me and the entire department.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.