Gregory Priest Promoted To Be Town’s New Fire Chief
WEST HARTFORD — After nearly three months as one of West Hartford’s assistant fire chiefs, Gregory Priest has been named the town’s new fire chief.
Priest, 41, was hired in June as assistant fire chief, leaving his job as UConn fire chief, where he oversaw the Storrs campus and UConn Health department in Farmington.
Town Manager Matthew Hart said Friday evening that he was impressed with Priest’s short tenure in West Hartford and asked him if he was interested in the job. Priest did not apply for the chief ’s job, and was not one of the two finalists from a pool of 18 candidates, Hart said.
“One of the things that impressed me during his short tenure here was his knowledge and experience,” Hart said Friday evening. “He’s developed effective working relationships within town and through the depart- ment’s rank and file. … He’s present; he’s visible; he’s engaged.”
Hart said in reviewing the two finalists he was “concerned as to whether either would be the best fit for the department and town” but noted that both finalists had good experience and knowledge. Hart said under the town’s hiring procedure, he has “significant discretion” in the hiring of department directors.
Hart said he consulted the town’s human resources department and members of the town council leadership before making his decision, and did not hear concerns from either.
Priest will take over as chief on Nov. 10. He will be paid a $140,000 salary.
Priest said he was “deeply humbled” when Hart approached him about the job.
“Chief Allyn built an incredible foundation,” Priest said. “I think I would like to continue to assess and see the results of the department’s efficiency study, assess opportunities for improvement and capitalize on what we’re doing well now.”
Priest grew up in Avon and has family in Simsbury. He said it is nice to return to an area he knows. Priest started as a volunteer firefighter and police cadet in 1992.
UConn hired Priest in 1997 as a firefighter and paramedic, and he ascended to chief 2016. He oversaw 44 sworn firefighters from two stations — at UConn’s main campus in Storrs and UConn Health in Farmington.
Through his career, he has served as a tactical medical provider for Meriden’s SWAT team and the North Central Connecticut Emergency Services Unit and has provided medical support for the FBI New Haven SWAT team.
He earned an associate’s degree in paramedic studies, a bachelor’s degree in fire administration, paramedic studies, criminal justice and a certificate in business mastery for public service professionals.
He lives in Salem with his two children, Gregory and Alexa.