Former state police sergeant, fire investigator named Montville fire marshal

Montville — Bill Bundy calls it a homecoming.

After spending three decades rising through the ranks of law enforcement — including eight years based in Montville as a leader in the State Police Eastern District Major Crimes Unit — Bundy took the reins of the town's fire marshal's office last week.

Town officials kicked off Bundy's first day on Friday by swearing him in at Town Hall before a crowd of colleagues, supporters and employees.

"I consider it an opportunity to come back home, deal with people I know, deal with public safety and hopefully improve upon something that has a great foundation," Bundy said.

Bundy fills the role long held by Ray Occhialini, who retired in April and took a job with the state Fire Marshal's office after 31 years in Montville.

Serving as a hybrid fire marshal-emergency management director, Bundy is responsible for code compliance and enforcement, fire investigations, supervising firefighters, coordinating with volunteers and managing the town's communications systems and dispatchers.

"We're lucky to have him," said Mayor Ron McDaniel, citing Bundy's supervisory experience, including as a leader in the State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit. "He's able to walk in the door and knows the job."

Town officials picked Bundy after an in-depth interview process that involved the town's Public Safety Commission and the mayor's office. McDaniel said the town received applications from a handful of solid candidates, but "the depth and knowledge that (Bundy) brings to the job made him rise to the top."

Bundy lives in Lebanon and once served as that town's deputy fire marshal. He began his career as a police officer in Norwich in 1985 and later became a detective. After a rash of fires in the city in the mid-1990s, Bundy underwent training and "ultimately hooked up with the Norwich Fire Marshal's office and gained a lot of experience," he said.

He earned a fire marshal certification in 1996 and served various assignments as a state trooper and sergeant, including several years in Montville with the Major Crimes Unit. Bundy supervised the detective unit whose investigation helped lead to the arrest and 2010 conviction of George M. Leniart for the 1996 murder of April Dawn Pennington.  

In 2013, Bundy transferred to the State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit and as acting commanding officer supervised 15 detectives serving municipalities throughout the state. He retired in 2016 and joined a private security firm, but said he "missed the public safety side." Bundy and his wife have four adult children and six grandkids.

Bundy added that it's too early to tell what changes, if any, he might bring to the department.

"I'm going to review everything," he said, noting he's learned best practices from working with many emergency management teams throughout Connecticut. "I need to pull from everybody that really has a stake in it."

Multiple Town Council members praised Bundy as an excellent choice.

"Bill Bundy is a trustworthy and reliable person with extraordinary training and experience," said Councilor Jeff Rogers. "His level of professionalism and leadership is exactly what Montville needs and desires."

Occhialini said he offered to come down to Town Hall to help Bundy by showing him "all the paperwork."

"I think he has all the background and management skills to take over and to make a difference in Montville," Occhialini said. "He's got a lot of support and is a very respected person."

b.kail@theday.com

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