Firefighters have long considered themselves to be a family. Whether around the station or out at a call, there’s a fraternity. There is a feeling of brotherhood.
The Wilton Fire Department added three new members on Feb. 12 with a swearing-in ceremony at the station, near town hall. Town clerk Bettye Ragognetti had the honor of having each new member raise his right hand and repeat the oath. A small crowd of fellow firefighters, family members, and supporters looked on as Mike Blatchley, Bryan Montgomery, and Mike Wydra were officially welcomed to the department.
“Today is an important occasion,” Wilton fire Chief Paul Milositz said as he addressed the crowd in the small room above the fire trucks. “I think we selected the top candidates available to us. They bring a lot of different experiences and a lot of different firefighting backgrounds. We hope we can link some of their experiences and learn from them.”
Mr. Blatchley comes to the department from New Haven, where he served as a lieutenant in the New Haven Fire Department.
“I look at this as the next chapter in my career,” he said with a smile as onlookers enjoyed refreshments at the reception. “I look forward to serving the citizens of Wilton. I’m excited.”
Mr. Blatchley said that the next step for the three new members of the fire department will be to head to the fire academy. The training, according to him, will be good for sharpening his skills.
“I am looking forward to going back to the academy again and perfecting the tricks of the trade,” he said. “It’s very demanding. There’s a lot of physical fitness and training. You learn fire behavior, ventilation, building construction. This list goes on. It’s a pretty intensive program.”
“We consider the department like a family,” he said. “Even though we fight like brothers, we’re always a family in the end. It’s important that, when we have family present, we ask someone from the family to present the badge to the new firefighter.”
Mr. Montgomery, who is originally from England, joins the department from Ossining, N.Y., where he was a volunteer firefighter. Formerly in software development and computer programming, he has realized a goal and was pleased to have family members present.
“My in-laws are pretty much like my parents,” he said. “I’ve been dreaming of being a career firefighter for a long time.”
Mr. Wydra, who lives in Orange, Conn., served as a lieutenant with the Milford Fire Department. With more than 20 years of experience there, he retired from Milford to accept the position with Wilton.
Wilton Fire Department had three openings following the retirements of Capt. Karl Dolnier and Lt. Michael Michelsen, and the resignation of another firefighter who left to join another department, according to Deputy Chief Mark Amatrudo.
The new members join the 16-person firefighter crew, along with four captains and four lieutenants.