The Derby Fire Department installed a new chief and a new slate of assistant chiefs during a ceremony Saturday at Derby Middle School.
More than 100 people watched as Mayor Rich Dziekan swore in new Chief Robert J. Laskowski, Jr., from the East End Hose Co.
David Lenart of Storm Engine Co. 2 is now first assistant chief.
Michael F. Gloade of Hotchkiss Hose Co. 1 is second assistant chief.
Thomas Biggs of Paugassett Hook and Ladder Co. 4 is third assistant chief.
Fire Commissioner Jim Petrino presided over the ceremony. Outgoing Chief Michael Goodman was thanked for his service.
“He will now move on to a more important, demanding, stressful role,” Petrino said dryly. “Father of a newborn daughter.”
Goodman thanked the members for their support and told new Chief Laskowski “that there is a lot of pride and tradition when you wear that white hat, and I know you’ll wear it well.”
Laskowski is a corporate jet pilot for a private company. His is married to Melissa, also a volunteer firefighter in Derby. Laskowski has been with the Derby Fire Department for 23 years.
In a speech Saturday, Laskowski thanks his wife, friends, and family for their support.
He also thanked past chiefs for helping to shape the department into what it is.
“I will do my part to make it better,” he said. “To my assistant chiefs — we have an obligation to our families, to the citizens and to the friends of the department in the city to do the best we can each and every day. We need to protect our members and make it our mission to make sure that everyone goes home safely.”
Petrino, by the way, has been Derby fire commissioner for about a year. He succeeded Mike Kelleher, who succeeded Kelly Curtis. The commissioner manages the departments and creates a budget each year through negotiations with the Derby Board of Apportionment and Taxation.
“I’ve gained a newfound respect for our volunteers,” Petrino said during the ceremony. “Our volunteers are the hidden gem of the community and our most valuable resource. They have a genuine devotion and compassion to serve our community.”
Petrino also reviewed the fire department’s 2018 call volume.
The four Derby fire companies responded to 701 calls for service, a 24 percent increase from 2017 and a 45 percent increase from five years ago, Petrino said. The department responded to 38 calls for assistance from other communities.
The city in 2018 spent some $500,000 on safety-related fire department equipment.
Its members received more than 2,500 in training.
Mayor Rich Dziekan noted this father was a member of Paugassett Hook and Ladder.
“I give you guys a lot of respect. Two thirty in the morning calls, I don’t envy you. Thank you for what you guys do,” Dziekan said.
The Derby Fire Department administers a written test to become chief, unusual for a volunteer department, Petrino said. Applicants are tested on fire fighting, building construction, incident command, hazardous materials procedures, and the policy and procedures of the Derby department.
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