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Evans names Stefano Napolitano as fire chief

Incoming Rochester Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano.
Incoming Rochester Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano.

Stefano Napolitano has been appointed chief of the Rochester Fire Department, capping a series of short-term interim chiefs.

His appointment was announced Wednesday by Mayor Malik Evans.

Napolitano will replace current interim-Chief Theresa Everett beginning Sept. 11. Everett was elevated to the role in February to take over for retiring Chief Felipe Hernandez. Hernandez was Evans’s original appointment as chief upon the mayor taking office in 2022.

Napolitano will mark the sixth fire chief of the Rochester Fire Department in the past decade.

“I cannot wait to join the ranks of the RFD,” Napolitano said, in a statement. “The men and women of City Fire have set the highest standards for excellence and growth and I have much to glean from their experience and passion.”

Napolitano has, for the past two years, been the New York deputy fire administrator for the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office of Fire Prevention and Control, a role he took upon leaving as chief of the Batavia Fire Department. He had been the chief in Batavia for about four years.

Of the six chiefs in the past decade, Napolitano is the only one to come from outside the department. His first firefighting role was with the Village of Frankfort Fire Department beginning in 1986. He later joined the Village of Herkimer Fire Department, where he eventually became deputy chief.

“Chief Napolitano has dedicated his entire adult life to fire service and brings nearly 40 years of experience to continuing the improvement and excellence of the Rochester Fire Department,” Evans said, in a statement. “His start date of Sept. 11, a day when our nation collectively honors the selfless heroism of firefighters and first responders, is a stark reminder of the magnitude of the role I have asked Chief Napolitano to fill.”

Everett is expected to retire following Napolitano’s start as chief.

Gino Fanelli covers City Hall. He joined the staff as a reporter in 2019 by way of the Rochester Business Journal, and formerly served as a watchdog reporter for Gannett in Maryland and a stringer for the Associated Press.