New Hyannis Fire Chief Assumes Command of Department

Jess Burke pins the Hyannis Fire Chief badge on her husband Peter, who was sworn in Monday morning.

HYANNIS – A new fire chief has assumed command of the Hyannis Fire-Rescue Department.

Chief Peter Burke Jr. was sworn in as the eleventh chief of the department during a ceremony Monday morning and was joined by his family, the Fire District Board of Commissioners, department staff and chiefs from several other fire departments.

Burke said the position of chief in Hyannis is a challenging and exciting opportunity.

“This community offers things that nowhere else in the Commonwealth has with the exception of Boston – when you consider a port, the airport, rail traffic,” Burke said. “There is a ton of activity here, obviously the tourist summer population. It is a very challenging place to be.”

Burke, who previously served as the deputy chief of the Barnstable district, said he already knew many of the members of the department and praised his new staff.

“They are widely regarded as excellent firefighters and very, very skilled, and I do feel comfortable coming here working with them,” Burke said. “I know they have a handle on the community and their responses and I look forward to that.”

Burke is also excited to be taking over the department with construction underway on a new facility.

“It’s absolutely remarkable when you consider the amount of things that are happening here in a short amount of time,” he said.

Burke poses for a photo with former Hyannis Fire Chief Harold Brunnelle, who retired from the position late last year.

Burke replaces former chief Harold Brunelle, who retired at the end of last year.

“I consider him a mentor before I worked here and I am really glad to be following in his footsteps,” Burke said. “And I know he will be here to help me as my career progresses.”

Brunelle said Chief Burke is fortunate to take over a department with a great staff.

“The department is going to benefit from his expertise,” Brunelle said. “He’s a young chief. He has a lot of good, new ideas. So he is going to be able to take the department into the future.”

Brunelle said he would be there to help Burke anytime he needed it, day or night.

Burke began his career as a junior firefighter in his hometown of Swansea before leaving for a position as a career firefighter/emt in Seekonk in 2002.

During his service in Seekonk, Burke developed and coordinated several programs within the department including numerous training efforts to improve firefighter safety.

Burke left Seekonk as a shift commander to become the deputy chief in Barnstable Village.

During his Barnstable tenure he worked to secure multiple grants, including one to fund a fire rescue vessel. He also was responsible for a number of training initiatives engaging the community.

He has also worked closely with the Coast Guard and the Army National Guard to improve cooperation and communication, along with being a member of the District Hazardous Materials Response Team and is involved in the leadership of the Regional Technical Rescue Team.

Burke is also an instructor at the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy and is an adjunct professor at Cape Cod Community College.

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Science from Providence College and a Master’s Degree in Emergency Management from Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Burke is also a graduate of the Chief Fire Officer Program.

He lives in Barnstable with his wife Jess and three children.

Burke said seeing the turnout for his ceremony was a good feeling.

“I’ve had the good fortune to always be surrounded by good people and today is a continuation of that,” he said. “I certainly appreciate their support and appreciate the support of the Hyannis firefighters and their warm welcome.”


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