With the new chief on duty and a line of firefighters cheering him on, former Edgartown fire chief Peter Shemeth rode off into retirement Monday evening — in a ladder truck.

Changing of the guard: Chief Shemeth shakes hands with incoming chief Alex Schaeffer at selectmen's meeting Monday. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Moments earlier, a crowd of firefighters, family members and other town officials gathered in the meeting room at the Edgartown town hall to watch the official change in command. Town clerk Wanda Williams swore in Alexander Schaeffer as the town’s new fire chief. Chief Schaeffer, formerly the deputy chief, was named to be Mr. Shemeth’s successor in November.

R. Andrew Kelly was sworn in as the new deputy chief. Geoffrey Freeman is the new assistant chief. Brenden Cooney was named ambulance coordinator.

After a pause for the new fire chief to sign his contract, chiefs past and present stood together at the front of the room.

Mr. Shemeth has been with the fire department for more than 40 years, and served as chief for the last 12 years. He turns 65 — the mandatory retirement age — this month. His wife Nancy, their daughters Justine Shemeth DeOliveira and Kara Shemeth, and their young grandchildren Mateo and Luiza DeOliveira and Sam Ignacio were all on hand Monday afternoon.

“Chief,” Mr. Schaeffer started. “Chief,” Mr. Shemeth responded.

Mr. Schaeffer presented Mr. Shemeth with a certificate of appreciation from the fire department and the Massachusetts Department of Fire Service, and “a token of gratitude for all your sacrifices throughout the years.”

Wearing their dress blues, fire department members lined first-floor hallway of town hall. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“I promise to fulfill all that you’ve hoped to accomplish,” Mr. Schaeffer said. “I relieve you, sir.”

The chiefs saluted each other to a round of sustained applause.

Mr. Shemeth thanked selectmen, the fire department and his deputy chiefs. “My family’s given up a lot, my extended family,” he said. “When I worried about becoming chief, they said surround yourself with the best possible people you can find . . . the people I have are nothing but the best and I thank you, one and all.”

Mr. Shemeth headed into the hallway at the town hall which was lined with more members of the fire department in their dress uniforms, including Mr. Shemeth’s daughter Lieut. Kara Shemeth, and his sons in law, firefighter EMTs Tom Ignacio and Paulo DeOliveira. There were handshakes and hugs, and a slew of phones recording the moment.

Then the former chief waved again to the crowd and walked outside to climb into the passenger seat of the Edgartown ladder one truck. Mrs. Shemeth and Lieutenant Shemeth, Sam in her arms, climbed aboard, too. (The rest of the family climbed aboard later for another spin around the block.)

The siren wailed briefly and the truck drove off down Main street.