Mer­wede named act­ing fire chief

The move fol­lows the re­cent re­tire­ment of Chief David Ber­ardesca

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Ben Lam­bert wil­liam.lam­bert@hearst­medi­act.com

HAM­DEN — Gary Mer­wede was ap­pointed as the town’s act­ing fire chief Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to an an­nounce­ment from Mayor Curt B. Leng.

The move fol­lows the re­cent re­tire­ment of Chief David Ber­ardesca, who worked his last day on Fri­day.

“His work ethic and per­sonal in­tegrity demon­strated over his ca­reer in the Fire Depart­ment is ex­em­plary,” Leng said in a state­ment. “Fur­ther, his ex­pe­ri­ence will al­low for a seam­less tran­si­tion, as we wish for­mer Fire Chief Ber­ardesca all the very best with his re­tire­ment.”

Mer­wede, who has worked for the depart­ment for more than two decades, was ap­pointed deputy fire chief in Jan­uary 2014.

While act­ing fire chief, he will also serve as the di­rec­tor of the town Of­fice of Emer­gency Man­age­ment, ac­cord­ing to Leng.

Mer­wede in a state­ment Fri­day said he was look­ing for­ward to the role.

“I have been very for­tu­nate these 4 + years to have served as Deputy Fire Chief un­der the Com­mand of Chief Ber­ardesca. I have had the priv­i­lege to work for the Ham­den Fire Depart­ment since 1994 and serve the com­mu­nity where I grew up and even­tu­ally raised my fam­ily,” Mer­wede said. “An­swer­ing the call to serve as Act­ing Fire Chief as the depart­ment tran­si­tions from the lead­er­ship of Chief Ber­ardesca is an honor, and I look for­ward to work­ing with our Of­fi­cers, Fire­fight­ers and Staff in this new ca­pac­ity.”

Ber­ardesca of­fi­cially re­tired Sept. 30, as re­quired un­der the Ham­den Em­ployee Re­tire­ment Plan af­ter he turned 65, but stayed on with the com­mu­nity in a part-time role through Fri­day.

He orig­i­nally was ex­pected to con­tinue serv­ing as chief through the end of the year.

The con­cept of of­fer­ing him a short-term con­tract, a past prac­tice in town, was found to con­flict with state and fed­eral reg­u­la­tion and ruled out, ac­cord­ing to Leng.

Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia file photo

Ham­den Deputy Fire Chief Gary Mer­wede gets his badge pinned on by his wife. The depart­ment an­nounced Fri­day that Mer­wede will serve as act­ing chief.

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