NAUGATUCK — When they are not responding to emergencies in the community, they are often rushing to fix a mini-crisis at home.
A diaper needs changing. A child has a skinned knee. Another is having trouble at school.
For these firefighters by day and dads by night, the problems come in multiples of two and three. Of the 32 career members of the Naugatuck Fire Department, two have twins and three have triplets.
For them, Father’s Day means something extra — two or three times extra.
“My wife always wants to warn the wives of new hires to be careful,” said Fire Chief Ken Hanks, who has three children, Timothy, 19, and twins Sarah and Nicholas, 17, with his wife, Ann. “We don’t know what it is yet, but it’s something.”
The multiples started with retired firefighter Anthony Campbell, a current Board of Finance member and former burgess. Campbell and his wife, Cheryl, a Naugatuck High School teacher, had triplets 20 years ago.
Then came the Hanks twins, followed by current Capt. Vin Healy’s twin girls, Nicole and Kathryn, who are now 15.
A few years passed before firefighter Tommy Moore joined the department with his then 1-year-old triplets, who are now 10. He has three boys — Avery, Casey and Brody — with his wife Becky, a City Hill Middle School teacher.
Three years later, Lt. John DeBisshop and his wife, JoAnn, had triplets Jack, John and Jeffrey, who are now 7.
Finally, there was firefighter Todd Gallino. He and his wife, Cayti, had two children and wanted a third. They ended up with five. Maggie, Owen and Ben Gallino, who just turned 3, joined the couple’s two other children, Ella, 8, and Todd, 6. Owen and Ben are identical and Maggie is fraternal. Of all the multiples in the NFD, the Healy twins are the only other identicals.
Vin Healy was one of 10 children. His father, Joseph, was a twin and always told his children that one of them would have “his twins,” he said. He should have known based upon where he works that he would be the one. None of his brothers and sisters have multiples.
“They call them mirror twins,” Healy said of his twin girls. “One is right-handed, the other is left-handed. One is good in math, the other is good in science, and so on. It’s pretty neat.”
Equally interesting is that the Gallinos had their triplets naturally — most studies indicate there is a one in 8,000 chance of having triplets without the use of fertility drugs.
“We were definitely shocked,” Todd Gallino said. “We do what we have to do to get by. My wife is an amazing person and mother, and I couldn’t do it without her.”
All of the firefighters said they could not imagine their lives without all of their children and help from their spouses. They also get a little help at work, too.
For example, Tommy and Becky Moore often pass down clothes from their 10-year-old triplets to DeBisschop’s 7-year-old triplets.
The firefighters who have children also know they can rely on others to cover a shift if they have a family function, and they usually return the favor.
“I totally understand family dynamics and try to work around that with swapping — the guys tend to take care of that themselves,” Hanks said.
The firefighters also try to have as many family-friendly events involving the community as possible. Every year on Halloween, for example, the fire department holds a costume party for all of the children in the community.
Perhaps nobody gets into it as much as the Moore triplets. One year they dressed up as characters from “Lord of the Rings” and had the crowd roaring with laughter.
Echoing the remarks of all the proud fathers, Tommy Moore said life with multiples is a blessing.
“It’s a lot of work, and it’s even more fun,” he said. “They keep me busy but they also keep me young.”