Firefighters Fulfill Childhood Dreams During Promotion Ceremony

Written by Elizabeth Casolo, GHS Class of 2021

One lieutenant and three virtually sworn-in firefighters were installed in their respective positions on Friday during an in-person ceremony at the Greenwich Fire Department’s headquarters on Bruce Place.

Nathaniel Schulde, originally from the Waterbury Fire Department, was promoted to Lieutenant. He joined the local department as a firefighter in 2007.

Nathaniel Schulde embraces his wife, Amber, after she gave him his badge. June 11, 2021 Photo: Elizabeth Casolo

Roger Clapp is from Deep River and began serving as a volunteer firefighter at the age of 16 before attending Western Connecticut State University. He was a correction officer prior to working as a firefighter.

Roger Clapp is sworn in as a firefighter at Greenwich’s public safety complex. June 11, 2021 Photo: Elizabeth Casolo

Anthony Ryan Jr. is also a graduate of Western Connecticut State University. He has experience as a sergeant in the U.S. Army National Guard and combat medic.

Anthony Ryan Jr. is sworn in as a firefighter at Greenwich’s public safety complex. June 21, 2021 Photo: Elizabeth Casolo

John Valentini graduated from the University of Connecticut before working for the Cromwell Fire Department. After two years, Mr. Valentini transferred to Greenwich.

John Valentini is sworn in as a firefighter at Greenwich’s public safety complex. June 11, 2021 Photo: Elizabeth Casolo

Back in May 2020, at the height of the pandemic, Mr. Clapp, Mr. Ryan Jr. and Valentini were sworn in during a virtual ceremony, but Friday’s event opened the firehouse up to their families.

The sworn-in firefighters, left to right: Anthony Ryan Jr., Roger Clapp and John Valentini. June 11, 2021 Photo: Elizabeth Casolo

“It’s a big day,” Mr. Ryan Jr. said. “Tradition is a big thing.”

Ryan Jr.’s father, Lieutenant Anthony Ryan Sr., pinned on his son’s badge, a symbolic part of the ceremony.

Lieutenant Ryan Sr.—who also dedicated his life to the profession—said it was rewarding to see someone “following in your footsteps.” According to Ryan Sr., when Ryan Jr. spotted a Mickey Mouse firefighter costume at Disney when he was younger, that was a major turning point.

“It is a dream come true,” Valentini said. Like Ryan Jr., he had been aiming for a career as a firefighter since was a boy. 

According to Clapp, the in-person ceremony meant “everything” to him. He described the moment he received his pin as “surreal.” This is not his first day on the job, though. Clapp said he took pride in his work over the past 10 months.

“We’re there to help mitigate the problem,” Clapp said. “We’ve really been enjoying the firehouse lifestyle and making a difference.”

Fire Chief Joseph McHugh said, “We’re lucky to have three hardworking, willing-to-learn firefighters join our department.”

Lieutenant Schulde said that he looked forward to tackling this position as his sole responsibility. He said he was “eady for anything.”

Despite having previous experience with the duties of a lieutenant, Schulde said that he was pivoting to cover the Glenville area. He spent most of his career working downtown, so this will be a significant change for him.

The ceremony had roughly 30 to 40 attendees and included an honor guard procession and refreshments after. First Selectman Fred Camillo read the oath to each member of the Fire Dept.

Greenwich Police Chief James Heavey and Selectperson Jill Oberlander also attended the ceremonies.

The honor guard and members of the Greenwich Fire Department mingle before the ceremony on June 11, 2021. Photo: Elizabeth Casolo

Also by Elizabeth Casolo:

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