Local Government and Politics, News, Police/Fire

Graham Archer named new Swampscott fire chief

Lynn Fire Chief Stephen Archer puts a pin on his brother, Graham Archer, after being appointed as the new Swampscott Fire Chief at Swampscott High School on Wednesday night. (Olivia Falcigno)

SWAMPSCOTT — The Lynn Fire Chief couldn’t help but crack a joke as he pinned his younger brother at the Swampscott fire chief swearing-in ceremony.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for an opportunity to stab him in the chest,” Lynn Fire Chief Stephen Archer, 55, said with a laugh.

After months of interviewing candidates, the town appointed Swampscott Fire Captain Graham F. Archer as its newest fire chief at the Select Board meeting Wednesday night. The appointment was in anticipation of the retirement of current Fire Chief Kevin Breen, who dedicated more than four decades of his life to the town’s department, serving as chief for the last nine years.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” said Breen, 66. “The emotion is enormous. It’s been fairly common during interviews for new hires for me to say this has been the greatest job anyone could have. I’ve actually done just about every job that there is in the Swampscott Fire Department and have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.”

“It goes well beyond the uniform what you’ve done for this town, Chief Breen,” said Select Board Chairman Peter Spellios.

Breen said he is ready to retire and spend more time with his family, especially his 1-year-old granddaughter, Willow. He has great faith in Graham Archer to take over the reins, he said.

“I’m at peace leaving the department in the safe and knowledgeable hands of your next chief, Graham Archer,” Breen said at the ceremony.

Archer, 52, said it was a very long hiring process, but he found out two weeks ago that he was being recommended for the position. After 30 years with the Swampscott Fire Department, with roles as a lieutenant, captain, and the town’s first full-time fire prevention officer, he said he is ready for the next chapter of his career.

“This is very exciting,” he said. “I am looking forward to being able to interact with all the guys, not just the ones on my shift, on a more regular basis. I also look forward to interacting more on the outside with the community and the people in our town.”

The new chief said Breen has left the department on pretty solid footing but he is ready to make some changes in the training process. He is looking to start the process earlier in the fire fighters’ careers and find ways to mentor them early on.

With a fair amount of turnover in the department with recent retirements, Archer said he is prepared for the challenges and positive opportunities that come with hiring new firefighters and promoting ones already serving the town. He is also looking forward to working alongside his brother Stephen, the Lynn Fire Chief.

“He and I have a good relationship,” Graham Archer said. “I’ve always leaned on him for advice and mentorship and that’s not going to stop now. I’m looking forward to him being a really useful asset for me.”

Graham Archer will begin his role as chief effective with Breen’s retirement, expected to be in the next few weeks. Breen said he and Archer have to make sure they feel he is fully ready to pick up right where was left off.

“My message to my coworkers is that it’s been an honor to work with them,” said Breen. “And my message to the citizens is it’s been a privilege to serve them in the various roles that I have, whether in this uniform, on the School Committee, or on the various committees I volunteered for. It’s been an honor to serve Swampscott.”

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