Lt. Paul Zwingelstein has his son Brayden pin the new badge onto his uniform.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Last Saturday was a day of firsts that Mitch Kellar won't soon forget.
It was his first shift as a deputy fire chief, his first day serving as a captain, and the first time he'd had to deal with four fires all at the same time.
Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said Kellar handled it well though, with a cool and calm demeanor and a high level of professionalism.
Kellar isn't the only officer within the department with new roles.
Tom Sammons has been promoted to deputy chief; Ron Clement, Michael D'Avella, Matt Packard, and Kellar were all promoted to captain; and Jim Heath, Matt Risley, Tim Conroy, and Paul Zwingelstein were all promoted to lieutenant.
"I'm confident you will do a fantastic job," retired Deputy Chief Mark Cancilla told the group of nine on Wednesday night when the department held a pinning ceremony to honor the occasion at Reid Middle School.
"It is a long hard battle to get here," Czerwinski said. "We all set goals in life and that's where we end up being, trying to get to these positions and trying to be the best people we can be."
The chief provided one major piece of advice for the promoted officers: be professional.
"Being a true professional comes from within the individual person. It is not the job of the training officer to teach you how to be professional. What they will do is give you the most basic knowledge to become a professional," Czerwinski said.
He called on the officers to treat others the way they would like to be treated, to conduct themselves in a calm and intelligent manner, to display a calm demeanor during an emergency and to perform to the highest standards.
"You have to remain passionate about your firefighting career," Czerwinski said.
He said there will be a time when others try to shake that passion, but he urged the officers not to give in. He told them to remain dedicated to the job and to be consistent with it.
Czerwinski remembered when he was first hired by the department and how happy he was to have the job. He said he was ready and able to take on every challenge and was proud of the work being done. He wants his officers to keep that pride just like he has throughout his career and feel it every day.
"It is important that you develop and maintain pride in yourself, your company, your department, and the manner in which you carry yourself. You and you alone set the tone for your future," Czerwinski said.
Mayor Linda Tyer is confident in the officer's ability and said that was clearly shown on Saturday, when a suspected arsonist set at least three fires in the city within minutes of each other. She said she was "extremely proud" of the work the city's public safety departments did on that troubling night.
The officers were joined by family during the ceremony Thursday.
"This weekend certainly was a moment for all of us in the city of Pittsfield when there was some fear and some anxiety. When I received a call from Chief Czerwinski and I spoke to [Police] Chief [Michael] Wynn about what was happening I had a couple reactions. First my heart was filled with confidence. I believe in our public safety community for the firefighters who are there to protect life, home, and possessions, for the Police Department conducting the investigation, I was filled with confidence," Tyer said.
"I was also filled with fear and worry that our firefighters and police officers were in harm's way. Every time we have an event like this in our community there is a mixed reaction, mixed emotion. I breathed a sigh of relief when everything has calmed down, I know everyone is safe, and that our firefighters and police officers have delivered to the people of our city the most excellent protection."
Department Chaplain Peter Gregory said, "scripture reminds us often that we must always build on rock, never on sand." He feels confident that those being promoted are coming from a solid foundation within the department and prayed for their futures within the city.
"Their courage, their commitment, and their vision to assume the responsibilities of their rank was enhanced by this foundation of stone," Gregory said.
Gregory had recently retired from St. Charles' Church but he had agreed to stay on with the department. Czerwinski recognized Gregory as an honorary firefighter at Wednesday's ceremony, presenting him with a fire helmet.
The promoted officers were then pinned new badged by loved ones.
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