Jet pilot is new Derby fire chief
DERBY — A 40-year-old corporate jet pilot is the new chief of the city’s 115member volunteer fire department.
Mayor Richard Dziekan administered the chief’s oath to Robert Laskowski, Jr., a 22-year member of the East End Hose company, before more than 100 people Saturday morning at Derby Middle School.
Laskowski’s wife, Melissa, pinned the chief’s badge on her husband’s uniform. She also is involved in the department’s history. She is the first woman to serve as a fire captain in the city.
In addition to Laskowski, Dziekan administered oaths to David M. Lenart, 40, of Storm Engine Co. 2, who will be Laskowski’s first assistant chief; Michael F. Gloade, 50, of Hotchkiss Hose Co. 1, as the second assistant chief and Thomas Biggs, 29, of the Paugassett Hook and Ladder Co. 4 as the third assistant chief.
Laskowski said one of his goals will be to increase the number of volunteers training to be firefighters as well as try to keep the current volunteers involved and on the job.
“It’s an issue most volunteer departments have,” he said.
Ansonia, Seymour, Shelton and Oxford all have volunteer fire departments and recruit year-round.
Laskowski said Derby accepts volunteers who are 18 or older. They can train to battle interior fires or just assist with equipment or on the scene. He spent two years as a lieutenant and seven years as a captain at East End.
Lenart, who will succeed Laskowski as chief in 2021, has more than a century of firefighting service in his bloodlines. Both his greatgrandfather and grandfather, the late Edward Cotter Sr. and Jr., served as firefighters, as does Lenart’s father.
Lenart, a 40-year-old former city aldermen, is a trained EMT and is employed as a Bridgeport firefighter assigned to Rescue Squad 5.
Gloade, 50, will become the city’s first black fire chief in 2023. A native of Antigua, he signed up to become a volunteer at Hotchkiss Hose in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“I felt I had to do something for my community,” he said. “I live just around the corner from Hotchkiss Hose.”
Biggs, 29, is a salesman and has been a member of the Paugassetts for the past 13 years. He is the son-inlaw of Michael Kelleher, a longtime city fire commissioner.
In 2018, the department responded to 701 calls in the city, 38 calls for assistance in neighboring municipalities and participated in 2,500 hours of training.
Robert Laskowski Jr., a corporate jet pilot, was sworn in on Saturday to a two-year term as Derby’s new fire chief.