The promotions of 10 members of the West Hartford Fire Department and the hiring of three new members of the department, were recently celebrated.
By Ronni Newton
West Hartford Fire Department Chief Greg Priest praised the leadership qualities and passion for helping others – just some of the personal traits of department members who are ready to take on new roles, and those who have recently been hired for a critically important public safety role – at a ceremony last month attended by town officials, department members, family, and friends.
Joking that he considered having ChatGPT write his speech, Priest noted that we are living in a time of rapid change. “Outside of the realm of AI technology, we are also watching changes to our climate, proliferation of electric vehicles and renewable energy sources, the manner of how our political parties interact, as well as unprecedented violence both nationally and internationally,” he said. “This is all in the context of a pressing need to find people willing to come into public service, let alone agree to lead others in a public safety agency.”
Those who’ve been promoted, and the new hires, Priest said, exemplify the qualities needed to navigate the rapidly-changing world, qualities that include “knowledge, dedication, optimism, emotional intelligence, resiliency, tenacity, and flexibility, but above all a passion for helping others, even when it comes at personal or professional risk.”
Priest also thanked the family members for their support and attendance at the ceremony, which was presided over by Deputy Chief Jarrad Smith as emcee.
Those present who were promoted were given the oath of office by Mayor Shari Cantor, and pinned by family members, while the new hired were sworn in. In addition to Cantor, Town Manager Rick Ledwith also offered his congratulations and praise for the department.
“The fire department has such an important role in all communities,” Cantor said. “The safety and security of the community are the pillars of the community and the most important thing that we as government can do,” she said, expressing her thanks and gratefulness to all department members for their service, as well as to their families for continued support.
Ledwith welcomed all who were being honored and their families as well. “We really do appreciate these opportunities to celebrate our fire department.”
He asked those being promoted to think back to when they were honored and sworn in at a similar ceremony, and told the newly hired how “incredibly important” they are to the community. “Please note that not a day goes by where we are not appreciative and grateful for what each of you contributes to keep us safe day in and day out,” Ledwith added, thanking them for choosing to work in West Hartford.
Smith shared the biographies of the following individuals who were promoted to new roles, given the oath of office, and pinned by family at the ceremony:
- Neal Sinatro – Deputy Chief
- William Beebe – Deputy Chief
- John Bigham – Captain
- Craig Larsen – Lieutenant
- Sean Howard – Lieutenant
- Rocco Laudato – Lieutenant
- David Wheeler – Apparatus Operator
The following new hires were sworn in and also celebrated:
- Christopher Wilcox – Fire Inspector
- David Holmes – Firefighter/Paramedic
- Adam Horne – Firefighter/Paramedic
Also promoted and unable to attend the ceremony were Captain Russell Duffy, Apparatus Operator William Berghoff, and Apparatus Operator Heather Wilson.
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