Fire chief to be honored by state Exchange Club

Ken Hanks

Ken Hanks

NAUGATUCK — The borough’s fire chief will be recognized for his more than three decade of service at the Naugatuck Fire Department.

Naugatuck native and Fire Chief Ken Hanks, 52, was selected as the Firefighter of the Year by firefighters from Local 1219. The award is given out each year by the Naugatuck Exchange Club.

While Hanks is happy to have this award it means even more to him because it was voted on by firefighters.

“It feels good to be honored by your peers,” Hanks said. “That’s the best award anyone can get, to be recognized by your peers.”

In addition to being recognized as Naugatuck’s Exchange Club Fireman of the Year Hanks will be recognized on the state level during Connecticut District Exchange Club’s Salute to Connecticut’s Bravest on Oct. 17 at the at the Aquaturf in Plantsville.

Naugatuck Exchange Club President Nancy Barton said the event recognizes outstanding firefighters from Connecticut communities in which local Exchange Clubs are active.

Hanks has been a firefighter for nearly 32 years, serving the first three years as a volunteer before being hired by the Naugatuck Fire Department. He was promoted to chief in 2010.  

Although he has risen through the ranks of the department over the last three decades, this was not a job Hanks saw himself doing when he was young.

“Every kid wanted to be a firefighter, but that was last thing on my mind,” Hanks said.

However, after a few of his friends convinced him to volunteer with the department, Hanks didn’t want to do anything else.

“I joined up and got hooked,” Hanks said.

Hanks, along with the police officer of the year, teacher of the year, and citizen of the year will be honored by the Naugatuck Exchange Club during the Community Champions Dinner in March.