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Town Manager Names Greg Priest as West Hartford’s New Fire Chief

Assistant Fire Chief Greg Priest began work on July 30, and was sworn in during a ceremony at Town Hall on July 31, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

Greg Priest, who was hired as an assistant chief of the West Hartford Fire Department in July, will officially take over as chief on Nov. 10.

By Ronni Newton

Town Manager Matt Hart announced Friday afternoon that Gregory H. Priest has been appointed as chief of the West Hartford Fire Department, and will assume his new role on Nov. 10, 2018.

Priest, 41, a resident of Salem, CT, was hired as assistant chief of the West Hartford Fire Department, responsible for operations, effective July 31, 2018.

Most recently Priest was chief of the University of Connecticut Fire Department and associate director of Public Safety for UConn, a job he held since December 2016. Prior to that he was a deputy chief stationed at the UConn Health Center in Farmington, where he worked extensively with the West Hartford Fire Department in mutual aid and emergency medical services roles. He originally joined the UConn Health Center Fire Department in 1997, and was named deputy chief in 2011.

“I’m deeply honored and humbled,” Priest told We-Ha.com in a phone interview Friday afternoon. “There were some very qualified candidates that came through.”

Priest is taking over for Chief Gary Allyn, who recently made an official announcement of his retirement after more than 30 years with the West Hartford Fire Department. Allyn’s last day on the job is Nov. 9, and Priest will take over the next day.

Priest said that the chief’s job was not on his radar. He said he was just doing his job, he said, but the town manager must have been watching closely and liked what he saw. “I came in wanting to do the assistant chief’s job, to do a good job. … I always felt that the organization selects the right individual at the right time and place,” he said.

“He’s really impressed me in his short tenure here and I asked him to consider it,” Town Manager Matt Hart said Friday afternoon. “He thought it through and has agreed to take on this new role,” said Hart.

“This isn’t about me,” Priest said. “It’s about recognition for the fire department. There are some great men and women providing fire service daily.”

Priest said that it will be his honor to lead them, and to provide vision and strategy for the department to be as successful as possible.

“This is such an important position that I wanted to be sure we got someone who was an excellent fit,” said Hart. “We wanted someone who could really connect with the members of the department, to work with the leadership team and also lead the department, engage the workforce, work with the union.” Priest excels in all of those areas, Hart said.

Hart said Priest immediately impressed him with his knowledge and experience as well as his character and integrity.

Important tasks that Priest will need to address right away include a study that is currently underway of the department, as well as the billing of ALS services, said Hart.

Priest’s career dates back to 1992, when he joined the Avon Fire Department as a cadet, and he also has experience in emergency service and law enforcement. He has an associates degree in paramedic services from Capital Community College, a bachelors degree in fire service administration, paramedic studies, and criminal justice from Charter Oak State College, and a management certificate for public service professionals from UConn.

“I’m really looking forward to working with Matt [Hart] and the Town Council,” Priest said.

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