Firefighters recognize peers at ceremony

Retired Naugatuck Firefighter Leonard Patterson receives a retirement gift from interim Fire Chief Ellen Murray March 30 at St. Francis Church hall during the Board of Fire Commissioners’ fifth annual Employee Recognition Ceremony. Patterson retired from the department after 25 years. –LUKE MARSHALL

Retired Naugatuck Firefighter Leonard Patterson receives a retirement gift from interim Fire Chief Ellen Murray March 30 at St. Francis Church hall during the Board of Fire Commissioners’ fifth annual Employee Recognition Ceremony. Patterson retired from the department after 25 years. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck Fire Department took an evening last week to honor the past, present and future.

The Board of Fire Commissioners held its fifth annual Employee Recognition Ceremony on March 30 at St. Francis Church. The commission welcomed new firefighters, recognized the achievements of current firefighters and said goodbye to firefighters retiring this year.

Capt. Jason Alford along with Firefighter and Assistant Mechanic Gregory McKirryher were promoted during the evening.

“Although it sounds cliché, it really does take hard work and dedication to become a firefighter. And then even more hard work and dedication to move up through the ranks,” interim Fire Chief Ellen Murray said.

Firefighters were also recognized for achieving 10 and 25 years of service, and five firefighters were honored for retiring this past year.

In addition, firefighters Matthew Hetrick, Ryan Chapin, Kevin Gorman, Brandon Johnson, Benjamin Mike and Ethan Gagnon were all sworn into the department. All six were hired late last year.

Murray welcomed the new firefighters, telling them their careers would be what they make of them.

“Simply stated, you have just won the lottery. This is the best job in the world. You will get out of it what you put into it. This job can be a paycheck to you; you can come in here and just exist for 20 years. Or you can come in here every day, determined to be the best you can be by educating yourself, striving to move upward, and being involved in your department and your community. I promise you will love the next 20 years if you follow that plan,” Murray said.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess urged the new firefighters to look to the veteran members of the department for knowledge.

“For our new firefighters that are going to be sworn in tonight, all you have to do is look up to the guys who are already here. You are working with a great group of guys who are very knowledgeable, who will help you in any way,” Hess said.

Hess also congratulated Murray on being offered the position of fire chief. The commission offered the position to Murray on March 23. The offer is contingent on Murray negotiating a contract with the borough to become chief on a full-time basis.

“I’ve been working with you for five months and you’ve proven to me that you are the best person to lead this department into the future,” Hess said to Murray.