His father was a police officer. His grandfather had served as a fire captain.
Lynch decided to follow in his grandfather's footsteps, even though the elder firefighter had died when Lynch was only 11.
But for some city officials, the retirement is the end of an age, since Lynch family members have been involved with public safety since 1917.
Lynch, who will retire as of June 1, was appointed to the Bayonne Fire Department on March 8, 1965.
"This was a time before firefighters received extensive training the way they do today," Lynch said during a brief interview prior to his leaving.
New firefighters were assigned to experienced firefighters and seasoned commanders, and learned the basics on the job. Firefighters worked 56-hour weekly shifts rather than the 42-hour shifts currently, and had to fight fires without much of the safety equipment modern firefighters use, such as Scotpack breathing devices.
"I learned to breathe off the tube," he said, referring to taking air from an oxygen source via a tube rather than the full mask and gear that firefighters are currently required to wear when going inside a building to fight a fire. "I also learned to stay out of the kill zone and to look at the color and movement of the smoke for a flash over."
Fires can be unpredictable, so that they can flash over a firefighter, creating a kill zone about four feet above the floor. By watching for subtle changes and keeping clear of the area where the flame will flash, firefighters reduce their risks.
Even the clothing worn during his first few years lacked the fire resistant materials that uniforms are made of today.
"After about four or five years, things began to change," he said. "When we got self-contained breathing devices, it was a huge step forward."
Lynch said during his 42 years of service to the Bayonne Fire Department, he saw some significant fires.
Many of the residential units in town were and still are wood frame houses.
"We also had several rooming houses in those days," he said.
Bayonne also had a lot of industry and many of the state and federal safety standards for industrial operations did not exist at the time.
Firefighting often depended a lot on learning how to deal with situations from previous fires and relying on the past experience of seasoned professionals in the department. Often, firefighters learned on the job, each fire providing new and valuable lessons for the future.
Many of the firefighters in his early years had military experience from World War II or Korea, which provided them with a kind of structure and discipline. Lynch also served in the U.S. Marines.
"When a captain told you to do something, you did it," he said. "Training was minimal. You got most of it on the job."
As a young firefighter, he was assigned to an experienced firefighter and officer, who made sure he learned what he had to learn.
Lynch has a record of accomplishments and rose through the ranks over the years - he was promoted to captain in 1974, deputy chief in 1988, and chief in 1999.
Looking back at his career, Lynch said he is proud of several things. In particular, he said, he was happy to have saved someone's life - for which he was given a Class A Gold Medal for Valor, and also the fact that no one was seriously hurt under his watch as chief.
He was honored for saving a life during a 1969 structural fire.
"I had no idea that it was considered a heroic act," Lynch said. "There were a number of people involved with the rescue. I was singled out for the honor."
While he said firefighters get hurt because of the nature of the job, no one under his watch was injured so seriously that they could not return to work later.
Under state law, firefighters must retire at age 65, and Lynch said he will miss the activity and believes that over time as he has time to reflect he will miss his years as a firefighter more.
"I never had a bad day on the job no matter how bad things got," he said, although over more than four decades, he remembered how badly he felt when a fellow firefighter died in the line of duty.
In leaving the department, Lynch said he feels confident in the future because firefighters are better educated and better equipped than when he started. But he also said that firefighters are bearing a lot more responsibility.
"We are in the cross hairs of terrorism," he said, calling Sept. 11, 2001 a defining moment for the department. "Our hearts broke over the lives lost in New York City and the sacrifices made. It was a terribly sad moment. But it also changed the way fire and emergency services operate."
The attacks and the rescue response made it clear to public safety officials that individual departments can no longer handle everything alone. He said departments now have to work together throughout the Metropolitan area to handle emergency situations.
Shortly, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey will be unveiling a tri-state response effort. While he said agreements already exist, he predicts a more formal arrangement.