Albert G. Duke, commissioner of the 967-member Buffalo Fire Department, announced today that he is retiring after a 32-year career.
Mayor Griffin appointed Duke to head the then-1,050-member Fire Department in July 1985, filling the post vacated by the retirement of Fred Langdon. Duke's salary in the 1989-90 budget was $52,202.
Duke's resignation is effective Saturday.
"It's an awful lot of work and a grave responsibility," Duke, who says he is "62-plus," told WBEN radio. "You have to devote yourself 24 hours a day, seven days a week . . . You work 10, 12, 14 hours a day, whatever it takes."
"Commissioner Al, I wish you and your family all the best and good spirits for the rest of your life," Mayor Griffin said today at a shopping plaza ground-breaking where he announced Duke's decision.
The Buffalo News could not reach Duke or other high-ranking fire officials to comment this morning.
Griffin also did not return a telephone call seeking his comment. Griffin did not announce a replacement for Duke.
But North Council Member David P. Rutecki said Langdon or Kenneth J. Trometer, a deputy fire commissioner who left his post in January, have been mentioned as successors.
Trometer could not be reached to comment, and Langdon said he has not been approached for the post and would not be interested anyway.
The deputy fire commissioners are Paul Shanks and Paul Kurzdorfer.
David Donnelly, president of the Local 282 of the Buffalo Professional Firefighters Association, said it had been rumored for months that Duke was preparing for retirement.
Donnelly, often at odds with Duke and the Griffin administration, said he holds no grudges against Duke.
"As president of the union, yes we have butted heads, but in his 30 some years he's been a professional," Donnelly said.
Donnelly said Duke maintained an "open-door" policy with union officials.
"We would hope that we would have an open-door policy with the new commissioner," he added.
Duke, a Buffalo native, joined the Fire Department in 1958 and was named a lieutenant in 1968. He became a captain in 1973 and a battalion chief in 1977. He was appointed deputy commissioner in 1978.
Of the department's 967 members, 725 are firefighters. Others are administrators and staff.