PHOTOS: Joseph McHugh Sworn In as Greenwich Fire Chief: ‘Local Boy Done Good’

Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo, who also serves as Fire Commissioner, began his remarks at a well attended outdoor swearing in ceremony for the new Fire Chief Joseph McHugh Monday morning by mentioning the massive fire on North Main Street in Port Chesetr on Sunday.

“I want to salute our bravest for their performance yesterday,” he said, going on to acknowledge Port Chester Mayor Falanka, who was in attendance.

Camillo described McHugh as a “local boy done good.”

First Selectman Fred Camillo, newly sworn in Chief Joseph McHugh and Deputy Chief Keith Millette. Aug 31, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager

McHugh succeeds Chief Peter Siecienski, who retired in May. He grew up in Greenwich and started his career at Sound Beach Volunteer Fire Dept, and went on to spend 29 years with the New York City Fire Dept.

“While we’re all really proud of his career, we all know that his best days lie ahead as he comes home to his family to serve as chief here in his home town,” Camillo said.

Camillo and Deputy Chief Keith Millette thanked outgoing interim Chief Bob Kick.

“Bob was always instrumental in our department. He did a lot with the union and moved up the ranks quickly,” Millette said. “He cared about the department. He never hesitated to do anything for any of us – career or volunteer. It’s been a pleasure working with you. Congratulations. Well done.”

Millette said there are firefighters, and there are people who just work for the fire department. “It takes about five minutes to tell who is who,” he said. “Are you into it? Or do you just show up? Joe is not a guy who just shows up. He’s into it since day one.”

Greenwich Fire Dept Color Guard. Aug 31, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager

Millette said he had known McHugh since they were boys. “I don’t think I could have ever scripted this when I first met you and we all talked about what we wanted to do with our lives – that we would be finishing where we started. It’s an honor.”

“The best part about Joe, as he becomes our chief, is his humility and his integrity. He’s been a high achiever pretty much throughout his entire firefighting career. And he doesn’t rub it in anybody’s face,” Millette said. “He’s always willing to lend a hand, always willing to explain, and that will be a great trait as our chief of department.”

Newly sworn in Greenwich Fire Dept Chief Joseph McHugh. McHugh started at the Sound Beach Volunteer Fire Dept in 1984. He joined the ranks of the Fire Department of the City of New York in 1991 as a Firefighter in Manhattan. During the course of his career he has served as a Lieutenant in The Bronx, a Captain in Manhattan, and became a Battalion Chief in Division 7 in The Bronx. He currently serves as Battalion Chief in Safety Command and is the Executive Officer of FDNY Safety Command operations. Aug 31, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager

Millette said he and McHugh were inspired by McHugh’s father Ed, who was part of the Greenwich Fire Dept from 1965 to 1985, and retired as a fire inspector.

“We knew at a young age that this is what we wanted to do. Whenever I’d go over to Joe’s house – whether it was after school, after work or before going to go do some volunteer fire stuff – it was like taking the lieutenant’s exam,” Millette recalled. “Before you could have dinner at the McHugh House, Ed would give us about 15 questions.”

Mr. Kick said many in the fire dept had known Mr. McHugh for 25 or 30 years. “It’s nice to welcome him and his family back into lead the fire department,” he said. “It’s a great day for the Greenwich Fire Dept.”

The newly sworn in Fire Chief recalled when they were little boys, he and Millette would go to the fire department to see McHugh’s father.

Newly sworn in Fire Chief Joseph McHugh and Deputy Chief Keith Millette. Aug 31, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager

“Every time we were at the fire house it was like Christmas morning,” he recalled. “I’d be so excited, and thrilled. I knew then and there I wanted my career to be as a firefighter.”

Of his 29 years with the New York Fire Dept, McHugh said, “I had the privilege to work with some of the greatest human beings on the planet.”

McHugh described becoming chief of the Greenwich Fire Dept as the final chapter in his 37 year career, though he said it was bittersweet to leave the New York Fire Dept.

He thanked his family and countless colleagues by name for making the trip up to Connecticut for the ceremony.

“I can’t ask for a better scenario,” he said. “To the men and women of the Greenwich Fire Department, I’m so excited to meet each and every one of you, and get to know each of you. For the people of the Town of Greenwich, as your fire chief, I promise I will give you 120% to assure that the Greenwich Fire Dept provides the best service to protect your families ad property. I appreciate the honor of being here.”

Newly sworn in Fire Dept Chief McHugh described his wife Pam as his foundation. Aug 31, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager
Newly sworn in Fire Dept Chief Joseph McHugh with his wife Pam. Aug 31, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager
Greenwich Police Chief James Heavey, GEMS executive director Tracy Schietinger and newly sworn in Fire Chief Joseph McHugh. Aug 31, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager
Assistant Fire Chief Bob Kick has been serving as acting Fire Chief. Aug 31, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager
First Selectman Fred Camillo congratulates newly sworn in Fire Dept Chief Joseph McHugh. Aug 31, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager
BET member Leslie Tarkington, former Tax Collector Howard Richman and State Rep Livvy Floren at the swearing in of Joseph McHugh as Greenwich Fire Dept Chief. Aug 31, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager
Socially distanced crowd gathers at Greenwich’s public safety complex for the swearing in of a new Fire Dept Chief Joseph McHugh. Aug 31, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager

See also:

Greenwich Board of Selectmen Vote in New Fire Chief

Aug 27, 2020

Massive Fire in Port Chester Displaces Apartment Building Residents

Aug 30, 2020