Fire Commission names new lieutenant

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John DeBisschop leads the Naugatuck Fire Department’s annual Halloween parade down Old Firehouse Road last October. DeBisschop, who was named this year’s Firefighter of the Year, was promoted this month to lieutenant. –FILE PHOTO
John DeBisschop (holding the American flag)  leads the Naugatuck Fire Department’s annual Halloween parade down Old Firehouse Road last October. DeBisschop, who was named this year’s Firefighter of the Year, was promoted this month to lieutenant. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — The borough’s firefighter of the year is now a lieutenant.

John DeBisschop III, who has worked for the Naugatuck Fire Department for seven years, was promoted earlier this month to fill the vacancy supervising two other firefighters at the Eastside Fire Station on May Street. DeBisschop has been working as a lieutenant since May 5, and has mostly overseen responses to fire alarms and brush fires.

“I’m still getting used to the new position,” DeBisschop said. “The east side of town is throwing me some nice easy calls to break myself in.”

DeBisschop was also one of three assistant mechanics, and his promotion leaves an assistant mechanic vacancy that will be filled after a test is administered to interested firefighters with at least five years of experience, according to Fire Chief Ken Hanks.

His firefighting vacancy will be filled by at least one of two new hires who are now attending the state fire academy, Hanks said.

DeBisschop was one of four firefighters who applied for the lieutenant position, which was left vacant after former Lt. Greg Flaherty was promoted to captain to succeed David Seeger, who retired.

The firefighters took a written test last month and went through interviews with Torrington Fire Chief Gary Brunoli and lieutenants from Hamden and Wallingford. After the written and oral scores were combined, DeBisschop came out on top by a substantial margin, Hanks said.

“He is always very focused and trying to get better in his job,” Hanks said. “He’s very driven, so I think he’ll do a good job down there.”

The Fire Commission voted May 1 to offer DeBisschop the promotion.

“I was pretty excited,” DeBisschop said. “I’ve been working towards this position for the past seven years.”

DeBisschop has an associate degree in fire science from Columbia Southern University. He was also named firefighter of the year this year by the Naugatuck Exchange Club, which cited his service to veteran’s organizations and the Boy Scouts. He is a Navy veteran and has worked as a 911 dispatcher in Southbury and as a firefighter in Waterbury.

He lives in the borough with his wife and four children, including 6-year-old triplets.

As a firefighter and assistant mechanic, DeBisschop was making about $60,000 per year. As a lieutenant, he now makes exactly the same salary, per the firefighters’ contract.