Two veterans of the Wilton Fire Department — Brian Elliott and Jim Blanchfield — were promoted from firefighters to lieutenants at a ceremony on Thursday, July 16. Each was described as an asset to the department whose skills extend far beyond fighting fires.
The ceremony began with a statement from the Chairman of the Fire Commission Gary Mecozzi.
“This is a great day for the town of Wilton and especially for the fire department. I think we’re moving ahead; we’re making a lot of promotions; we have some new people coming on board and I think it’s going to be a great time for this department.”
Next to the podium was First Selectman Bill Brennan, who commented on the relationship between departments as being central to Wilton’s success as a town.
“Please,” he asked, “take a look around and see, besides the firefighters that are here, the number of police officers that are here. The town works well together. Our whole focus is on working closely together. We get things done by working together, and that is the essence of this community.”
Fire Chief Ron Kanterman gave a personal anecdote that shed light on the importance of fire lieutenants to departments everywhere.
“Many discussions have been held in national circles, at conferences, online and in trade journals about who really runs the fire service,” said Kanterman. “I, myself, had a loud discussion about 15 years ago with a line captain from Chicago. (He) looked me in the eye and said, ‘Chief, the officer in the right-front seat of every apparatus in the country runs the fire service on a day-to-day basis. Those decisions that we make in the first five minutes on arrival will most likely determine the outcome of that emergency. I didn’t believe him then, but a week later I had contemplated what he said and I called him at his firehouse in Chicago. I told him I thought he was right. Ever since then, it’s been my firm belief that, in fact, the person in the right-front seat moves the fire service forward each and every day.”
Kanterman then introduced the new lieutenants. Brian Elliott was joined by his wife Renee, daughter Abby and sons Jackson and Jacob. Jackson pinned his father’s new badge to his coat.
Jim Blanchfield was accompanied by wife Kathleen and daughters Elizabeth and Abigail. Blanchfield’s father-in-law, William Brennan (not to be confused with the first selectman), pinned the badge to his son-in-law’s coat. Brennan is a retired captain and 37-year veteran of the Trumbull Police Department.