The West Hartford Fire Department held a badge pinning ceremony on Feb 16, celebrating the promotion of a deputy fire marshal, captain, several lieutenants, an EMS officer, and several apparatus operators, and also welcomed a new firefighter.
By Ronni Newton
The West Hartford Fire Department celebrated multiple promotions and welcomed a new firefighter at a ceremony Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022 at Town Hall attended by family, friends, other members of the department, and town officials.
Acting Town Manager Rick Ledwith, attending his first promotional ceremony since assuming the town manager role earlier this month, said these events are not only a chance to recognize those who are being promoted, but an opportunity to honor all firefighters. “Public safety – fire and police – are really the foundation of all the core services we provide our community. Our residents have come to rely on the fire department because you are there when we need you the most.”
Ledwith said what he also admires about the town’s fire department is that its members treat it not just as a profession but as a calling. “Together you are a family, a sisterhood, a brotherhood. You always have each other’s back and you always have our community’s back, and we are forever grateful for that commitment.”
Fire Chief Greg Priest noted that his message is directed to several different audiences.
“You have your elected officials, leaders, listening to the quality of the candidates and the impact on the town,” he said. There are also the family and friends of the newly promoted or hired, and there are also people in the audience who may want to be hired or promoted themselves.
Hiring and promotional choices are challenging, Priest said. “Without a doubt, the quality of each member here is West Hartford is well above average,” he said, but there are only so many positions to which people can be promoted. “It’s not as simple as a written test or oral board, it’s about leadership, responsibility, and trying to look to the future about who will improve our already outstanding fire department and then grow both our programs and future leaders.”
The process of promotion at the West Hartford Fire Department has changed, Priest said, and is no longer only earned through a balance of “knowledge, experience, training, formal education, and attitude/work ethic.” Those being promoted, he said, have “clearly demonstrated their commitment to the department, their personal growth and preparedness for the position that they are elevating to.”
He noted the background of a few of those being promoted. Deputy Fire Marshal Marsha Adell’s promotion “is the culmination of her dedication, hard work, engagement with our town, and her professional achievement.” A West Hartford native and nearly 22-year veteran of the department, Adell was “the first Black woman to graduate from the Connecticut Fire Academy, the first Black female fire inspector here, and now, our first Black female deputy fire marshal” – achievements being appropriately celebrated during Black History Month.
Sinatro, a 10-year veteran and also a West Hartford native, “is known for being a steady, committed, respected leader having taken on each of his roles in the department with a calm humility.” He has exhibited passion and professionalism, and a commitment to excellence, Priest said.
He also noted the importance of the EMS officer position as the first line of defense protecting the community and members from harm, and welcomed new firefighter Robert Doton, who will undergo a rigorous training program at the Connecticut Fire Academy.
“We have an outstanding community, a great team, and high expectations,” Priest said. “The four cornerstones on the Chief’s Challenge coin are duty, pride, commitment, and excellence. They are good guides for a successful career no matter which position you hold, I encourage you to live up to each one, do your best, and represent our patch well.”
Mayor Shari Cantor said that without the “incredible, professional, caring, committed work” that the fire department does, West Hartford would not be the community that it is. “Thank you all for serving this community, for making us better, and we appreciate you every single day.”
The individuals recognized included:
- Deputy Fire Marshal Marsha Adell
- Capt. Neal Sinatro
- Lt. Kyle Chapin
- Lt. Steeve Parent
- Lt. Jason Powers
- EMS Officer Rocco Laudato
- Apparatus Operator Edward Dombroskas
- Apparatus Operator Kristin Fillian (unable to attend ceremony)
- Apparatus Operator Steven Teiger (unable to attend ceremony)
- Firefighter Robert Doton
Cantor, who administered the oath of office to the newly-promoted, said she is excited to watch Adell as she continues to “break glass.”
Adell also spoke to those in attendance, thanking her family for not setting limits on her expectations as well as those who have encouraged her non-traditional career.
“To whom much is given, much is expected,” Adell said. “Whether this is your first badge or your second bugle – and even those of us in between – our community, our fellow firefighters, and our families are expecting so much from us. I’m hoping that what you’ll see on the other side of my promotion is a continuation of strong efforts in community risk reduction, collaborative relationships, and exemplary professionalism. I assure you that the FMO will continue to be a leader in fire prevention and a trusted resource for fire safety.”
Adell, who attended Duffy Elementary School, Sedgwick Middle School, and graduated from Conard High School, said she takes “pride in wearing this uniform in this town. It’s not just the town where I work, it’s where I am raising my family, and it’s where I grew up. … To the public: we all wear this uniform with pride. Continue to trust us,” she said.
“Lastly, To all little boys and girls and even men and women who need to hear it, I’m hoping that me standing up here is proof that, no matter what box you check, you can’t ever let other people’s stereotypes of you keep you from success in any career you want to pursue.”
Battalion Chief Keith Albert served as emcee for Wednesday’s ceremony.
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