NORWALK — Gino Gatto was promoted Tuesday to head the Norwalk Fire Department, where he has worked for nearly four decades.
Gatto, a 36-year veteran of the department, accepted the Norwalk Board of Fire Commissioners’ offer to serve as Norwalk fire chief under a year-and-a-half contract retroactive to Dec. 1.
“I will continue to try to move the department forward,” Gatto said after the board meeting at the fire department headquarters on Connecticut Avenue. “I appreciate the confidence that the mayor and the commissioners put in me. I will try to do my best and not let anybody down.”
After executive-session discussion, the two-member board chaired by Mayor Harry Rilling voted unanimously to offer Gatto the position. Gatto has served as the city’s acting chief since last June when Fire Chief Laurence Reilly retired. Rilling said Gatto has done a good job as the city’s acting chief.
“It’s kind of an opportunity, when you have somebody in an acting position, to watch them in the performance of that duty and to be able to evaluate them fairly and with good information,” Rilling said. “The department, I believe, is running well under the chief. He’s got the respect of the firefighters, which is always important, and he has been informative. He’s kept us up to speed, and he certainly has my trust and confidence.”
In its consideration of hiring a chief, the board looked within the department and did not post the position externally.
Rilling said the board will hold a special meeting March 1 to discuss and interview candidates for the position of assistant fire chief - Gatto’s former job — and will likely make a decision on that date.
The mayor said he is still looking to fill the vacant third seat on the Board of Fire Commissioners.
Gatto had served as assistant chief before being promoted to acting chief last June.
Aside from Gatto, the nearly 150-person fire department is overseen by Deputy Fire Chiefs Al Bassett, Chris King, Ed Prescott, Steve Shay and Todd Smith.
Reilly retired June 1, 2017, after 42 years service with the department. He was appointed acting fire chief after Fire Chief Denis McCarthy left at the end of September 2015 to head the Fairfield Fire Department.