Photos and text by Adam J. Hansen
The Connecticut Fire Academy held its graduation ceremony on Friday, December 9,on the campus of Central Connecticut State University at Welte Hall. Recruit Class #58 was made up of 58 brothers and sisters representing 13 different departments from around the state.
This class marked the 10-year anniversary of the Stratford Fire Department/Connecticut Fire Academy/Recruit Class #26 presentation of the Michael C. Reilly “Hard Charger Award.” Michael was a graduate of the Connecticut Fire Academy and member of the Stratford Fire Department before joining the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). After completing the FDNY academy on July 6, 2006, Michael was assigned to Engine Company 75 “Animal House” in the Bronx. On Monday, August 28, 2006 while battling a three-alarm fire in the Bronx, Michael was killed in the line of duty. For the past 10 years, the Connecticut Fire Academy has proudly presented the award to a recruit who demonstrates the qualities Michael embodied as a firefighter and as a person. This year’s Michael C. Reilly “Hard Charger Award” was presented by Stratford Lieutenant Mike Tiberio, representative of recruit class #26, to recruit Thomas L. Sarno Jr of the Milford Fire Department. In marking the 10 year anniversary, about ten of Michael’s brothers from Engine 75 attended the ceremony including Captain Coppola who also gave remarks. All prior recipients of the award were invited and many attended to show their support.
We are currently working with instructors who have been instrumental in the Michael C. Reilly award, members who worked with him in Stratford, members who worked with him on FDNY (Engine 75), and most importantly, Mr. Michael Reilly Sr., who has given us his blessing to write about Michael’s life and the “Hard Charger Award.”
The following are the departments and number of firefighters which made up Class #58 respectively.
Bridgeport (22) Greenwich (1) Manchester (1) Milford (5) Naugatuck (3) New Britain (4) New London (3) North Haven (1) Norwalk (8) Ridgefield (4) Stratford (2) Westport (3) and Willimantic (1).
State Fire Administrator Jefferey Morrissette (above) led with the introduction.
The State Wide Honor Guard/Connecticut Firefighters Pipes and Drums led the processional and the National Anthem was performed by Kelly-Ann Clark.
The invocation was led by Reverend Joseph Keough, New Britain Fire Department Chaplain.
Remarks were made by New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, New Britain Fire Chief Thomas Ronalter, and D.E.S.P.P. Commissioner Dora B. Schririo.
Connecticut Fire Academy Director of Training, William M. Higgins Jr introduced Class #58.
Chief Andrew Kingsbury of the Westport Fire Department gave remarks to Class #58.
Recruit Mohammad Khan of the Bridgeport Fire Department, class spokesman, was entrusted with the duties of delivering the remarks of class of #58.
Program Coordinators David Christoff, Theodore Borowski, Bill DeFord, Brian Hurst, Mark Martin, and Pete Morotto presented the “Instructors Award” to recruit Mathew Currao of the New Britain Fire Department.
Program Coordinator William J. DeFord 2nd gave the benediction.
Adam J. Hansen is a lieutenant with the City of Milford (CT) Fire Dept. He began his career as a volunteer in his hometown of Branford (CT) in 1999 and was hired with Milford in 2006. He is currently assigned to Engine Company #7. Hansen is a graduate of the University of New Haven where he earned a Bachelors of Science in Fire Science, (Fire Admin.) and a minor in Criminal Justice. He is a Nationally Registered Paramedic and is State Certified: Fire Instructor 1, Fire Officer 1, Incident Safety Officer, Pump Ops, Aerial Ops, and Technical Rescue: Trench.