Veteran battalion chief picked to lead Norwich Fire Department

Norwich — Norwich Fire Department Battalion Chief Tracy Montoya was selected from among 19 applicants and seven finalists as the new city fire chief, City Manager John Salomone announced Thursday.

Montoya, 54, will be sworn in Jan. 31 in a ceremony at City Hall and will have an initial salary of $116,000. He will succeed former Chief Kenneth Scandariato, who retired last summer.

Montoya said Thursday morning he was “excited, happy and proud” to be chosen to lead the city fire department, which covers the urban central city and surrounding neighborhoods.

“It’s going to be an interesting challenge,” Montoya said.

Salomone said Montoya rose to the top of the candidate pool through the extensive interview process. Following Scandariato’s retirement, Salomone allowed the four city battalion chiefs to alternate in two-week stints as acting chief. Salomone intended the shifts to be tryouts for the battalion chiefs interested in the chief’s position.

Salomone said Thursday he really got to know Montoya through the interview process and was impressed by both his service record and approach to the position.

“Chief Montoya’s decades of experience in the city along with his demonstrated leadership and management abilities were evident each step of the way,” Salomone wrote in the news release announcing the appointment Thursday. “His deliberate and thoughtful approach to those he works with, his creative and resourceful manner, as well as his dedication and commitment to high standards will suit him well as he assumes the position as chief of the city’s fire department.”

Montoya joined the Norwich Fire Department as a firefighter in October 1991 and rose to lieutenant in December 2001 and fire captain in July 2005. He was one of four officers named as battalion chiefs in July 2007, when the department was restructured. Montoya has been shift commander of Platoon 1 for the past 11 years.

During his 33-year Navy career, Montoya rose from an active-duty enlisted member to chief petty officer and commissioned ensign. He transitioned to the Naval Reserves in October 2002 and currently is a lieutenant commander at the Naval Reserve station in Newport, R.I.

The interview panel for the fire chief’s position started with Salomone, Norwich Human Resources Director Brigid Marks and fire chiefs from Manchester and East Hartford. Salomone and Marks conducted the final interviews.

“The choice evolved,” Salomone said. “That’s why we do all the interviews we do. The more you interview, the more you narrow it down.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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