GREENWICH — It was a homecoming as well as a swearing-in ceremony for the new chief of the Greenwich Fire Department, as Chief Joseph McHugh returned to the community where he began his firefighting career before joining the fire service in New York City.
As dozens of firefighters from around the region looked on Monday morning, McHugh took the oath at an outdoors ceremony at the department headquarters, succeeding Peter Siecienski as fire chief.
McHugh had the crowd laughing as a described how much he wanted to become a firefighter when he was a little boy, imitating the sound of a fire engine as he sped down Sheep Hill Road on his bicycle. He said he was eager to follow in the footsteps of his father, Edward, a firefighter and fire inspector who died in 2017.
The incoming chief began his career with the Sound Beach Volunteer Fire Department in Old Greenwich, where he served as a firefighter and then as a lieutenant. He moved to the FDNY in 1991, rising to the rank of battalion chief. He earned a commendation for saving the life of a mother and daughter in a Bronx residential fire.
GFD Deputy Fire Chief Keith Millette is a longtime friend of the new chief, and called him the kind of firefighter who gives everything he has to the job. Millette said his friend was possessed of “humility and integrity,” and as a colleague, McHugh is someone who is “always willing to explain and always willing to lend a hand.”
First Selectman Fred Camillo said McHugh’s accomplishments in the FDNY are impressive. “But we all know his best days lie ahead, serving in his hometown,” Camllo said. The new chief, who lives in Port Chester, N.Y., worked in New York City for 29 years.
McHugh, who said he appreciated the contingent of FDNY firefighters who came to Greenwich for the ceremony, said it was a “bittersweet” moment to leave the city department.
“But I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “To the people of Greenwich, as your new fire chief, I promise to give you 120 percent, to give you the best service, and protect your family and property.”
Interim Fire Chief Robert Kick publicly announced his retirement at the event. He said he encouraged McHugh to apply for the position after it became clear that the search committee would be hiring from outside the department. “I’m happy to turn over the reins to Chief McHugh,” Kick said.
Kick has been with the Greenwich Fire Department for 27 years and was the assistant fire chief before serving as the interim chief when Siecienski retired in May. Kick is leaving the department in early October.
McHugh was selected from a pool of 40 applicants who responded to a national search. https://www.greenwichtime.com/local/article/Serving-his-hometown-New-fire-chief-sworn-15528158.php#photo-19891085