Two new firefighters were sworn in and previous promotions were recognized at a ceremony at West Hartford Town Hall.
By Ronni Newton
The West Hartford Fire Department caught up on celebrations missed during the COVID-19 pandemic, recognizing multiple members of the department who had been promoted and also welcoming two new firefighter/paramedics.
Family, friends, other members of the department, and town officials were in attendance to recognize the promotions of Battalion Chief Keith Albert, Capt. William Beebe, Lt. Ryan Shea, Lt. Troy Shipley, and Apparatus Operator Taylor Salva. All took the oath of office for their new positions, administered by Mayor Shari Cantor, and received their new badges.
Chief Greg Priest also officially welcomed Firefighter/Paramedic Robert Doton and Firefighter/Paramedic Esteban Enriquez.
Doton, who attended on crutches, has already completed the 18-week program at the Connecticut Fire Academy and will fully resume his duties as soon as his injury is healed. Enriquez is currently undergoing training.
“I could not be happier with both of you,” Priest said to the new members. “Never forget how it feels to be where you are, to have earned the right to wear our patch but also the gravity of accepting to put service to our community before self and the importance of the oath.”
Priest noted that celebrating promotions, some of which were years ago, was unintentionally overdue, but important for families to participate in career accomplishments. “… [T]his job isn’t about individual recognition, but it should be about letting your families, kids, and others see, feel, and be able to participate in a ceremony as a reflection of your hard work and dedication to duty.”
Going forward, Priest said, the department is committed to holding ceremonies on a more timely basis, immediately following personnel action.
Priest thanked department members for their “incredible level of service to our community,” and for their resiliency – for their recovery following a challenge. “This is a tough job, physically, emotionally, and mentally,” he said.
Priest also thanked Battalion Chief Jarrad Smith, who organized the event, and served as emcee.
Cantor said the work of the fire department is highly valued by the town, and is a priority. She congratulated those who were promoted and welcomed the new members. “During the pandemic was a great opportunity to see all of what you do in a creative and collaborative way,” she added.
“We really do appreciate these opportunities to celebrate our fire department,” Town Manager Rick Ledwith said. “Each of you are incredibly important to our town.”
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