Mayor Karl Dean has announced that longtime Metro employee John W. ‘Billy’ Lynch, who currently serves as interim fire chief, is retiring this month after 45 years in various roles working for six mayors. The Nashville native has served as director of Metro Public Works, director of Human Resources and chief deputy sheriff, as well as a previous stint as interim fire chief.
Mayor Dean also announced that Metro Fire Assistant Chief Richard T. ‘Rick’ White will be elevated to interim fire chief. White has worked at the department for 35 years, beginning in 1978 as a firefighter and rising through the ranks until being named assistant chief in 2003.
“Billy loves Nashville and the people who live here, and our city is fortunate to have had such a dedicated public servant work in so many areas of our Metro government,” Mayor Dean said. “He has helped make several of our departments more efficient and effective and leaves behind many Metro employees inspired by his commitment to public service. All Billy has ever wanted to do was serve the people of Nashville, and he has done so in a way that has made me and five mayors before me very proud.”
Lynch has served as interim fire chief since April, 2012. He will continue to serve in a part-time role as a special advisor to Mayor Dean and assist with the Fire Department, Public Works and other special projects.
Mayor Dean was joined by Lynch and White in a news conference at the Mayor’s Office.
“This city means the world to me,” Lynch said. “As a native Nashvillian, I take enormous pride in the incredible growth and progress that Nashville has made. Serving the citizens of this great city has been my life’s work, and I will always be grateful to have been given this opportunity by Nashville’s mayors. Nashville has been fortunate to have had outstanding and dedicated leaders, and from my experience working at four different Metro agencies, our employees are also the best.”
Lynch began working for Metro in 1968 in the Human Resources Department, and, at the age of 25, became the youngest assistant director of any Metro department. After obtaining a master’s degree in criminal justice from Middle Tennessee State University, he was appointed chief deputy sheriff in 1979. In 1987, he returned to the Human Resources Department to serve as director.
Lynch was appointed interim fire chief from 2000 to 2001, and then returned as director of Human Resources, where he oversaw the merger of the Benefit Board and the Human Resources Department. He was appointed director of Public Works in 2002, and continued in that position under Mayor Karl Dean.
After the 2010 floods, Lynch and the staff at Public Works organized and directed the massive cleanup of the city in less than 30 days. Also during his 10 years overseeing Public Works, the department redeveloped Church Street and Deaderick Street, built a new bridge over Demonbreun Street and began the massive effort of extending Korean Veterans Boulevard on the south side of the Music City Center. He also took on the challenge of updating the city’s Solid Waste Code, the first major update to occur since the creation of Metro.
As interim fire chief, Lynch has overseen a comprehensive audit of upper level management practices and the expansion of ambulance coverage by reorganizing existing staff.
White is a Nashville native who worked ten years as a firefighter before moving on to roles as a fire engineer, fire instructor, captain of the Hazardous Materials Team, district chief of special operations and assistant chief of the Urban Search and Rescue Team.
“With 35 years at Metro Fire, Chief White has immense experience and knowledge about the department and our city,” Mayor Dean said. “Keeping our citizens safe is one of my top priorities, and I am confident that Nashville families will be well served by Chief White’s leadership.”
White is a master trainer on hazardous materials with the International Association of Firefighters. At Metro Fire, he has overseen implementation of audit recommendations to enhance fire and medical responses. He has a political science degree from Middle Tennessee State University and an Associate’s of Science degree in fire protection technology from Tennessee State University. He graduated from Glencliff High School in 1973.
“Our task is to provide the best possible services to the people of Nashville, a great responsibility that I am honored to undertake,” White said.
“I want to thank Mayor Dean and Chief Lynch for the confidence they have shown in me. Nashville is a great city, and protecting the lives, property and environment of all its citizens is a job worthy of our greatest efforts.”