Norwich fire chief to retire in September

Norwich — Norwich fire Chief Kenneth Scandariato plans to retire in September, according to an application he filed with the city’s Personnel and Pension Board.

Scandariato, who leads the city’s paid fire department and also serves as city emergency management director, plans to retire Sept. 6, City Manager John Salomone said Wednesday night. Scandariato declined to comment Wednesday night. The Personnel and Pension Board will discuss his application for retirement at its June 19 meeting.

Scandariato, formerly the North Providence fire marshal, was appointed as Norwich’s paid fire department in January 2005, succeeding James Walsh, who had retired.

Commonly called “Chief Scan,” Scandariato launched new initiatives in training during his tenure and pushed to improve inventories of city buildings deemed at high risk for fire. In May, Scandariato appointed newly promoted Lt. Jacob Manke as head of the training and safety department, a new position in the department.

Scandariato also serves as city fire marshal.

In January 2017, following the unexpected death of Norwich Emergency Management Director Gene Arters, Salomone named Scandariato to that post, as well. Scandariato enlisted the help of the Laurel Hill Volunteer Fire Department in a thorough overhaul of the emergency management headquarters on McKinley Avenue, and to revive the mostly dormant volunteer Community Emergency Response Team.

“I’m going to miss him,” Salomone said. “He’s a real fixture at the fire department. You give the chief a task, and he gets it completed. You don’t have to think twice. He stepped in to help the Emergency Management Department after the untimely death of Gene Arters. He stepped into that and really did a fine job.”

Salomone said he would follow a similar process as when he selected a successor for police Chief Louis Fusaro. Then-Deputy Chief Patrick Daley was promoted to the chief’s position. Salomone said he first would review the job description to see if it needs to be updated. He would consider whether an internal candidate should be promoted to the position and also would consider a search outside the department.

In addition to Lt. Manke, the fire department has four battalion chiefs.

“There’s excellent number-two people there, so if there’s an interim that needs to be appointed, we have excellent choices,” Salomone said.

Salomone said he likely would keep the dual position of fire chief and emergency management director, but would look to appoint an assistant director to handle situations when the chief is “occupied with firefighting.”

Mayor Peter Nystrom, who sparred at times with Scandariato over budget and staffing issues, said he has great respect for the chief and wished him well in the upcoming retirement.

“Everybody has different opinions and sometimes they come out,” Nystrom said. “That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate that he has raised the level of professionalism of the department. He has, and he has made the department stronger.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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