The efforts of Boston Fire Commissioner Joseph E. Finn to change the culture in one of the nation’s oldest fire departments through promoting health and safety has earned him recognition as Fire Chief of the Year.

Finn received the honor from the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association, an organization of 200 fire chiefs representing the largest cities in the US and Canada, at its annual conference last week in Orlando.

“It’s a humbling honor,’’ Finn said. “When you have 200 of the largest fire departments in the country and Canada [select you], it’s an honor.”

Finn was recognized for his leadership promoting wellness and safety practices, including requiring that firefighters wear protective gear, city officials said.


He established the Boston Fire Department’s Safety, Health and Wellness Division and commissioned two award-winning videos that put a spotlight on the high rates of cancer among firefighters and need to reduce the cancer risks.

As a result of his initiatives, officials said, firefighters are now required to wear protective hoods and new 45-minute air tanks when fighting fires, and monitor air quality in burning buildings.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Finn is “committed to putting the health and safety of his firefighters above all else, setting national standards and paving the way for other cities to follow.”

The Fire Chiefs organization is a part of the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Fire Protection Association.

Finn, a Marine veteran and 33-year member of the Boston Fire Department, rose through the ranks in the fire department and was selected as commisioner by Walsh in July 2014.

Meghan E. Irons can be reached at meghan.irons@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @meghanirons.