Alexander J. Schaeffer, the deputy chief at the Edgartown fire department, has been named the town’s next fire chief.

Selectmen unanimously approved the appointment at their meeting Monday. Mr. Schaeffer will take over for chief Peter Shemeth when he retires Jan. 9.

The board of fire engineers unanimously recommended that Mr. Schaeffer succeed Mr. Shemeth as chief, selectman and board chairman Arthur Smadbeck said.

Mr. Smadbeck said he was on the board when Chief Shemeth was appointed. “It’s hard to believe that you’re retiring,” Mr. Smadbeck said.

“It’s been great working with Peter,” town administrator Pamela Dolby said. “I look forward to working with Alex.” Mr. Schaeffer thanked selectmen for giving the fire department time to transition smoothly and allow everyone in the department to prepare for the change.

The new chief has been with the fire department since 1996. In May he received accreditation from the Massachusetts Fire Service Commission, which has established credentials for the level of fire chief. The program has requirements based on education, training, and experience.

The fire chief is a full-time paid position.

Chief Shemeth has been with the fire department for more than 40 years. In January he will turn 65, which is the mandatory retirement age.