SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Saratoga Springs Fire Chief Robert Williams will retire in February.
Williams joined the fire department in 1984 and worked his way up through the ranks to become chief in 2009. His last day will be Feb. 28.
"The city is going to miss the chief tremendously," said city Public Safety Commissioner Peter Martin, who announced the retirement. "He is a popular figure throughout our city and has certainly advanced our fire, EMS and fire prevention programs into a 21st century service."
Born and raised in Saratoga, Williams is a third-generation city firefighter. His father, Thomas J. Williams Jr., was also the fire chief.
Williams has served as president of the Saratoga Springs Fire Administrative Officers and Firefighters Association Local 343, and he is a state fire instructor and municipal training officer. He is a former rescue tech specialist with the regional urban search and rescue team and deployed to New York City after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Martin credited Williams with improvements to deployment and response times of fire and emergency medical units, overseeing infrastructure and other improvement projects and helping secure funding to rehire firefighters after layoffs in 2010. He also improved records management and communications systems, Martin said.
More recently, Williams was incident commander when the city declared a state of emergency after the Aug. 17 lightning strike at City Hall, which remains closed, due to damage from that event.
He also oversaw the fire department's takeover of fire inspections. Next year, the department will begin to oversee all fire prevention and code enforcement in the city.
"I have been honored to serve as a member and most recently the fire chief of the Saratoga Springs Fire Department," Williams said. "It was my dream, as a child, to follow in the footsteps of my father, grandfather, and join the Saratoga Springs Fire Department."
In retirement, Williams plans to spend more time with family and friends and to travel, but he will continue to be a state fire instructor.
Martin said he will conduct interviews of candidates for fire chief and will announce his appointment at a future City Council meeting. The appointment is expected in time for Williams to work with the new chief on the transition.