Wallingford deputy fire chief promoted to top position

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WALLINGFORD — Deputy Fire Chief Joe Czentnar became the fire chief Monday, after serving as acting fire chief for the past three months.

The former fire chief, Richard Heidgerd, retired in April.

Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said in a statement Monday that Czentnar was up against out-of-town candidates.

"He possesses the intelligence, experience, skill and temperament to serve our community in this very responsible position," Dickinson said. "Recently he has responsibly contributed to the needs and challenges of emergency fire response."

Czentnar’s accomplishments include a $6.2 million radio communications upgrade, which he co-managed with the Police Department, and the implementation of a new response and staffing model for the Fire Department, which added a third engine company, advanced life support on all engines and a new transport ambulance division operating around the clock.

He began his career in the Wallingford Fire Department in 1992, according to the mayor’s statement. Before that he was active in the North Branford Volunteer Fire Company. In Wallingford, he served as battalion chief and shift commander for 11 years, and approximately seven years as deputy fire chief.

As the town’s deputy emergency management director, he has assisted in response to several incidents and is a state certified fire marshal.

The advertised salary range for fire chief was $117,933 to $150,898. Applications for the position closed April 19.

Heidgerd said Monday that coming up through the ranks is one of the things that’s always respected in public safety.

Czentnar “has sat in every seat,” Heidgerd said, “from riding in the ambulance, to being a firefighter, lieutenant, shift commander, deputy and now chief. With that comes a lot of knowledge and experience that benefits the department and the town greatly.”

Czentnar said Monday that he will make a formal request to have an exam to fill his vacated deputy fire chief position.

Heidgerd said that the department has “a lot of good depth in the on the bench” when it comes to finding a new deputy fire chief internally.

“People that have been working towards career advancement — the lieutenants move to shift commander and such — so they definitely have a good pool of candidates for that open position as well,” he said.

The other deputy fire chief is Sam Wilson, who oversees emergency medical services and training.

The town also recently promoted the deputy police chief to police chief. John Ventura succeed former police chief William Wright, who retired July 1.

LTakores@record-journal.com203-317-2212Twitter: @LCTakores

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