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Veteran firefighters earn promotions
Posted On: Apr 20, 2010

Veteran firefighters earn promotions


Norwalk Hour Staff Writer

The Norwalk Fire Department promoted three veteran officers on Monday to help lead a city service that anticipates significant changes in the future.  Capt. Gino Gatto, Lt. Joseph Coppola and firefighter Bruce Sanford were promoted to their new respective positions Monday afternoon during a special ceremony in the fire headquarters garage on Connecticut Avenue.

"As we look forward the next couple of years, there are going to be significant changes" to this department, Fire Chief Denis McCarthy said. "It's important to recognize that the people we hire and promote are capable of sustaining that change and the challenges that come with it."

The fire department will welcome five new firefighters in May, a new ladder truck in September and a completely restored headquarters by July 2013, McCarthy said.

"Change usually identifies some opportunities but also some challenges," he said. "Having good officers that can deal with those thoughtfully and help us devise the best solutions is vital."

Gatto, a 28-year veteran with the department, reached the highest tested rank that a firefighter can earn when he was promoted to the role of deputy chief of training.  He replaces Edward Prescott, who will fill the vacancy left by former deputy chief Robert Talloni. Talloni recently retired from the NFD after 28 years to head the fire department in Harrisburg, Pa.

"I've always wanted to be on a career fire department, and from day one that I've been here, I've been working toward this," Gatto said. "It's a big accomplishment for me."

Gatto began his fire service career as a volunteer with the Darien Fire Department in 1973. He joined the NFD in 1982, made lieutenant in 1994 and then captain in 1997.  He holds an associate's degree in chemical and environmental science from Norwalk State Technical College, and has four certifications from the Connecticut Fire Academy.  Moving into the Gatto's vacated position of captain is Coppola, a 13-year veteran, who has served as a lieutenant since 2004.

In addition to his role as an adjunct fire instructor with the Connecticut Fire Academy, Coppola is also the acting union secretary for the NFD union. He holds a bachelor's degree in communication science from the University of Connecticut and has six fire certifications.

"Capt. Coppola has earned a reputation for commitment to the fire service both inside the department and throughout the state," McCarthy said. "He has accomplished much in his 13 years with the Norwalk Fire Department, and we're very happy and proud to promote him to the rank of captain."

Sanford takes with him three certifications and a strong family background in fire service as he moves into his new role of lieutenant.

Sanford, who joined the NFD in 2002, will supervise the department's newest recruits, as well as the more experienced firefighters.

Mayor Richard A. Moccia swore in the high-ranking fire officials and thanked them for their long-standing sacrifice to Norwalk. "Over the years this department has changed," he said. "But the one thing that never changes is the quality of people that we manage to attract and ultimately promote."

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