Norwich Fire Department to have rotating acting chiefs

Norwich — With the retirement of 13-year Norwich Fire Department Chief Kenneth Scandariato, the department’s four battalion chiefs will start a rotation on two-week assignments as acting chief.

Scandariato’s official last day was Thursday. City Manager John Salomone has worked out written agreements with the four battalion chiefs to rotate into the position until a permanent chief is selected.

The rotation begins with Battalion Chief Tracy Montoya, a 27-year veteran Norwich firefighter. Montoya was promoted to battalion chief in July 2007, the longest term of the four current battalion chiefs. Following his initial two-week term, 20-year veteran firefighter Keith Wucik will take the reins. Wucik was promoted to battalion chief in November 2016.

Six-year Battalion Chief Greg Despathy, a 26-year Norwich firefighter, will be third in the rotation, followed by Scott Merchant, a 20-year veteran Norwich firefighter, promoted to battalion chief two years ago.

The rotation could repeat if the selection of a new chief is not ready.

Salomone said the job description for the chief’s position is being rewritten and the position should be posted soon both internally and outside the department. Scandariato was the first chief to be hired from outside the department, appointed as Norwich chief in January 2005 after having served as North Providence fire marshal.

In January 2017, Scandariato also was named director of emergency management following the unexpected death of longtime Director Gene Arters. He retained that position and led the effort to revamp the emergency management facility on McKinley Avenue and revive the dormant Community Emergency Response Team.

Salomone said last week the new fire chief job description will include emergency management director as a permanent dual role for the fire chief.

“I think that’s worked well,” Salomone said.

c.bessette@theday.com

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