By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer
NAUGATUCK — Fire Chief Ellen Murray will retire from the Naugatuck Fire Department at the end of this fiscal year.
Murray, whose contract expires June 30, submitted her letter of resignation to the Fire Commission May 4.
“It’s time to retire. I’ve been doing this for 38 years,” Murray said. “It’s time to move on.”
Murray started her career as a firefighter with the Stratford Fire Department in 1982. After nearly three decades as a Stratford firefighter, she retired before taking the deputy fire chief job in Naugatuck in 2011. The borough appointed Murray interim fire chief when then-Chief Ken Hanks retired in August 2015 and officially hired her for the job in 2016.
Murray, who is turning 61 this month, said her first grandchild is on the way and she plans to eventually move from her home in Shelton to New Hampshire to enjoy retirement.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time. I made some good friends. I have mixed feelings about leaving,” Murray said. “I have to start my new chapter with my family. It takes a lot of your time to be fire chief.”
Fire Commission Chairman Tom McKirryher said Murray will be sorely missed.
“Chief Murray has faced many challenges over her nine years of service to the borough, which would include the hiring of new firefighters due to a large retirement of men under her direction,” McKirryher said. “Many hours were spent over the years with the budget and the purchase of new apparatus, and training.”
Murray said she’s worked well together with Deputy Fire Chief Paul Russell, who she credited with helping to move the department forward. Murray also thanked the mayor, burgesses and the Board of Finance for supporting the department when firefighters needed new equipment and vehicles.
“We’re all going to miss Ellen,” Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said. “She will always be welcome here.”
Hess said he plans to look for an internal candidate to be the next fire chief. He said he will make a recommendation to the Fire Commission and wants to hire someone before the end of fiscal year.