Jet pi­lot is new Derby fire chief

Connecticut Post - - NEWS/FROM THE FRONT PAGE - By Michael P. Mayko

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.

Michael P. Mayko / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Robert Laskowski Jr., a cor­po­rate jet pi­lot, was sworn in on Satur­day to a two-year term as Derby’s new fire chief.

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