After 18 years as Wilton Fire Department’s administrative secretary, Norwalk resident Cathy Horn decided it's time for a change.

On July 11, Horn traded in her fire helmet for a police hat and transferred to Wilton police headquarters to serve as the department’s administrative secretary.

Horn joined the fire department in October 1998, following the retirement of its former administrative secretary of 23 years, Marlene Renner.

“That opened up a world of opportunity and change for me,” said Horn, who worked in the Wilton Finance Department as a bookkeeper for a little more than a year before joining the fire department family.

When she first started working at the fire station, Horn said, the department had a “relatively small” staff, which made her daily duties “much easier and relatively stress-free.”

“Over the last 18 years, our staff increased to 30 full-time employees,” she said, “and as our employees climbed, so did my responsibilities.”

At the fire department, Horn said, she was “the sole preparer for payroll processing, time management and record keeping for each of the employees, as well as the go-to person for processing invoices and purchase orders.”

“I have worn many different helmets and have put on many different listening ears over the years at the fire department — each one as important as the next,” she said.

Horn said she will never forget “the support system, camaraderie, laughter, kindness and sensitivity of all the men at the fire department.”

“I wasn’t sure I would fit in at the fire department, but during my first week there in 1998, it became so clear that I was meant to be there,” she said. “Not just for my own benefit, but to also be a support to the guys that I worked with.”

Horn said she speaks of the Wilton firemen as her “stepbrothers” because “they have always watched out for [her] and have always had [her] best interest at heart.”

“They have consoled me through losses, shared smiles and happiness when good things happened,” said Horn, “and listened to my chatter of Victory Lane wins for my husband Bob’s race car career.”

Horn said she is thankful for everyone she has had “the pleasure of working with” in the fire department and will miss the residents and visitors who would pass her desk every day.

“Every person there has had a hand in helping me become the person I am today,” she said.

One thing Horn said she will not miss about the fire department is receiving emergency calls on the department’s regular phone lines, and she encourages people to “err on the side of caution” and call 911 even if a situation doesn’t seem like a real emergency.

“In the time it takes for the call to be made and answered — that is, if we are even in the firehouse — on our regular phone line, a situation that might seem like it is nothing can become a real emergency in a flash of a second,” she said.

“You should never think of a call to 911 as a bother to anyone. This is what your fire and police department personnel are here to do.”

Horn said she sees her new job at the police department as “a wonderful opportunity to change up responsibilities, create a new support system, make new friends and re-fire [her] brain cells.”

The police secretary position became available after former administrative secretary of 18 years, Claire Furano, announced she would be retiring on July 5.

Horn said she is “honored” to have been the candidate Police Chief Robert Crosby selected as Furano’s replacement and plans to “enjoy a long career with the police department” until she retires.

“I could actually retire in December of 2016,” she said, “but I have no desire to stop working.”