At the passing of fellow Kiwanis member, Bob Shea, I was asked to serve out his term as a Fire Commissioner. I can recall hearing others call him “The Commish”. Soon after that, I learned what that meant and how I became part of the Fire Department family.
After being sworn in by our Town Clerk on March 17 at the Gaelic American Club flag raising ceremony, I knew this would be a new chapter in my service to our town. I would be the first Democratic woman to serve and only the second woman to serve as a Commissioner.
We gathered to meet at our monthly meetings, then at the Jennings Road Station #2. It was evident at how busy our department was as the tone went off and our fire fighters were off to so many calls. Dealing with the many issues that came before our group. From budget items to grievances, we had many more meetings. Although we did not always agree, we could leave a meeting and act in a civil manner. It was my honor to be present at our many award ceremonies, testing sessions, interviews for officers, training programs, parades and times when we meet those selected to attend the Fire Academy as well as their graduations.
This period of time spanned three First Selectmen. Someone who has served us well is Chief Felner. He was never too busy to return a call or to listen to a concern or to a question. As a former educator, I always valued educational opportunities for the members of our Fire Department. This will serve us well into the future.
As the demands change, Chief Felner has sought and encourages his team members to attend conferences. That is where we find out about new opportunities for the department. We have obtained many grants and secure funds for our town.
The role of the future Fire Department will be in the hands of the highly educated men and women. The challenges and opportunities for the next generation of Fairfield's Fire department will require those with new skill sets as well as advanced training and degrees.
During my tenure, I am pleased to see how closely our Fire and Police departments do work together. The fine work of our Southport and Stratfield Volunteers are all part of our fine team. Sharing our outstanding Chaplin, Father Charles Allen, S.J. We have so many fine retired members of the Fairfield Fire department. So may Fairfield continue to be in the safe hands of our Emergency Services personnel. They are ready 24 / 7 to keep Fairfield Secure.
It has been my honor to serve as a Fire Commissioner. I have had the opportunity to work with many others to continue to make our Fairfield Fire Department, second to none.
Susan P. Barrett