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Posted on: February 8, 2024 | Last Modified on: February 8, 2024

West Haven FD promotes two career firefighters, swears in recruit firefighter

WHFD Promotional Ceremony 031 (Small)

PHOTO — West Haven Mayor Dorinda Borer, center, joins members of the West Haven Fire Department of the First Fire Taxation District during a promotional and swearing-in ceremony at fire headquarters Wednesday night, Feb. 7. From left, Deputy Chief Ronald Pisani Jr., Board of Fire Commissioners Treasurer John Carew, newly sworn-in recruit firefighter Deerick Arzola-Torres, newly promoted Lt. Joseph Wendland, fire board Secretary Herbert Hill, fire board Chairman Bruce E. Sweeney, newly promoted Capt. Andrew Bennett, Chief James P. O’Brien and Deputy Chief William S. Johnson IV. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

WEST HAVEN, Feb. 8, 2024 — Two career firefighters were promoted and a recruit firefighter was sworn in during a ceremony at the West Haven Fire Department of the First Fire Taxation District on Wednesday night, Feb. 7.

Bruce E. Sweeney, the chairman of the district’s Board of Fire Commissioners, administered the oath promoting Lt. Andrew Bennett to captain and firefighter Joseph Wendland to lieutenant.

Bennett, 38, of Old Saybrook, was hired in 2009 as a firefighter/paramedic, and Wendland, 35, of Watertown, was hired in 2018 as a firefighter/paramedic.

Sweeney also swore in recruit firefighter Deerick Arzola-Torres, 22, of Windsor.

Arzola-Torres is gearing up to begin the Connecticut Fire Academy’s 15-week Recruit Firefighter Program on Monday, Feb. 12, an intensive journey to fulfill his status as the newest career firefighter of the district, also known as the Center.

The half-hour ceremony was held on the apparatus floor of fire headquarters, 366 Elm St., before a standing room-only crowd that included Mayor Dorinda Borer, state Rep. Bill Heffernan, D-West Haven, and several dozen commissioners, chiefs, officers, firefighters and union stewards from the 136-year-old department and the city’s other two fire departments.

Heffernan is a retired West Haven fire lieutenant and the department’s historian.

After leading the Pledge of Allegiance, Sweeney, who was flanked by fire board Treasurer John Carew and Secretary Herbert Hill, delivered opening remarks.

“I am exceptionally proud of our new officers and our new firefighter,” said Sweeney, before directing the crowd to the array of career officers and firefighters in attendance. “These are the men and women who keep us safe and sound, that let us go to bed at night without a worry. They’re there — and they’re for us!

“Our department is getting younger and younger and more superior, more profound, more trained than any department I can think of. They are miracle workers, and we appreciate everything you do for us.”

The ceremony featured congratulatory remarks by O’Brien, who was joined by department Deputy Chiefs Ronald Pisani Jr. and William S. Johnson IV.

“Our firefighters, including the ones today, are the best prepared, the best trained duty officers in department history,” said O’Brien, as the departments’ members and the firefighters’ families and friends applauded. “They have done extensive class work, mentoring — and it shows.

“It’s an exciting time to be in this department, to be joining this department, to lead this department — because they may be young, but they’re very talented, they’re very committed. We are very fortunate we’re on the right road.”

O’Brien introduced Bennett’s wife, Becci, who pinned a captain badge on her husband with help from their daughter, Ellie, 7. The chief followed by introducing Wendland’s wife, Victoria, who pinned a lieutenant badge on her husband with help from their three children: Bennett, 5, Gavin, 3, and Presley, 9 months.

O’Brien then introduced Arzola-Torres’ sister, Jelisse, who pinned a firefighter badge on her brother.

Hill presented each officer with a polished red helmet adorned with their new rank and a polished black helmet for the new firefighter.

West Haven’s storied fire service includes the independent West Haven Fire Department and the independent West Shore Fire Department, which serves the West Shore Fire District. It also includes the formerly independent Allingtown Fire Department, which had served the Allingtown Fire District until the city took it over in July 2012 and is now known as the City of West Haven Fire Department Allingtown.

Collectively, the departments have been in operation for 355 years: West Haven since 1888, Allingtown since 1907 and West Shore since 1918.

— MICHAEL P. WALSH, Public Relations Information Coordinator

WHFD Promotional Ceremony 031 (Small)

West Haven Mayor Dorinda Borer, center, joins members of the West Haven Fire Department of the First Fire Taxation District during a promotional and swearing-in ceremony at fire headquarters Wednesday night, Feb. 7. From left, Deputy Chief Ronald Pisani Jr., Board of Fire Commissioners Treasurer John Carew, newly sworn-in recruit firefighter Deerick Arzola-Torres, newly promoted Lt. Joseph Wendland, fire board Secretary Herbert Hill, fire board Chairman Bruce E. Sweeney, newly promoted Capt. Andrew Bennett, Chief James P. O’Brien and Deputy Chief William S. Johnson IV. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

WHFD Promotional Ceremony 004 II (Small)

West Haven Fire Department Chief James P. O’Brien delivers remarks congratulating the newly promoted career firefighters and sworn-in recruit firefighter as Deputy Chiefs Ronald Pisani Jr. and William S. Johnson IV look on. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

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Becci Bennett, with help from daughter Ellie, 7, pins a captain badge on her husband, newly promoted West Haven Fire Department Capt. Andrew Bennett. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

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Victoria Wendland, with help from children Bennett, 5, Gavin, 3, and Presley, 9 months, pins a lieutenant badge on her husband, newly promoted West Haven Fire Department Lt. Joseph Wendland. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

WHFD Promotional Ceremony 022 II (Small)

New West Haven Fire Department recruit firefighter Deerick Arzola-Torres shakes hands with Bruce E. Sweeney, the chairman of the First Fire Taxation District’s Board of Fire Commissioners, after being sworn in by Sweeney. Looking on are fire board Secretary Herbert Hill, center, and Treasurer John Carew. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

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