Fire Chief Steve Murphy Says Goodbye To NFD After 35 Years

Jason Graziadei •

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“Just knowing you had my back, that’s huge,” Nantucket Fire Department Chief Steve Murphy said Tuesday morning to his colleagues during a ceremony to mark his retirement after 35 years of service with the town.

Firefighters, police officers, town officials and Murphy’s family gathered at the Public Safety Facility on Fairgrounds Road to honor the outgoing chief who will work his final hours at NFD this Friday.

“Thank you all for showing up,” Murphy said. “Thank you for being here for me and my family. For some of you, that’s 35 years of support.”

Town manager Libby Gibson presented Murphy with a plaque to commemorate his career in the fire service on Nantucket.

“I, everyday, appreciated your advice,” Gibson said. “You always had a bit of information that we hadn’t quite thought of that changed what we were thinking about. Your patience and your support have meant the world to me, not just through covid, but throughout your career here. I credit you with getting ALS (advanced life support) underway here, and we’re moving along because it’s been a longtime coming, but your persistence and dedication to it has made it happen. We’re going to miss you.”

Murphy, an island native, joined the Nantucket Memorial Airport fueling and firefighting team right out of high school in 1987, and four years later later joined the Nantucket Fire Department as a full time firefighter/EMT. He never imagined that he would rise to become chief of the department, a post he has held for the last five years.

“I’m looking forward to it, just to be able to have some time off and see what comes,” Murphy told the Current when he announced his retirement earlier this year. “I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I’m not going to stop working. I’m going to enjoy some time with my wife and see where the road leads. But it’s time for me to leave and reaching this point, it’s something I’ve been looking forward to for awhile, and it’s finally coming. Is there some side of me that’s sad? Absolutely. I love the work. I loved being a paramedic, EMT and a firefighter.”
The search for, and debate over, Murphy’s replacement has dominated town politics over the summer, ever since the Veranda House fire on July 9th. There was a public outcry after current Nantucket Fire Department Deputy Chief Sean Mitchell was passed over for the job and did not make the group of finalists selected by a three-person search committee. Last week, over the objections of community members and firefighters, the Select Board voted 3-1 to approve a contract with former Portsmouth, Rhode Island fire chief Michael Cranson to lead the Nantucket Fire Department for the next three years.
Cranson, 50, has been in the fire service since he was a teenager, and retired as the fire chief in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, in May 2018 after 27 years with the department.

The town has also hired an interim fire chief to bridge the gap between Murphy's retirement and Cranson’s start date. Martin Greene, the former Bourne fire chief who recently served as interim chief for Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard. Will take over leadership of the department for the two-month period between Murphy and Cranson. The town’s contract with Greene will pay him $600 per day, plus expenses.

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