WESTERLY — A restructuring at the Westerly Fire Department has put the final say regarding who will serve as line officers back in the hands of department chiefs.
The procedural restructuring, which was passed by the Westerly Fire District Board of Engineers earlier this year and recognized during the annual meeting in late August, is designed to better utilize the unique skill sets of the officers, expand coverage in the community and provide support to department chiefs.
The new line officers, six in all including two captains and four lieutenants, took over responsibilities in June and were honored during the annual meeting on Aug. 26.
"It is not something that will have much impact on response operations," said Westerly Fire Chief John Mackay. "The biggest change, from a public standpoint, is how the officers are chosen. It is something that will really give the chiefs better control over who has what assignments."
Prior to the recent changes, members of the line officer team were chosen at the discretion of the Board of Engineers. Officials said that the changes, which were part of an ongoing effort to update policies and procedures to enhance efficiency, allowed the board to recommend officers who are then selected by the chiefs based on needs.
The chief team — Mackay leads a group that includes 1st Asst. Chief Kevin Morrone, 2nd Asst. Chief Joseph Fusaro Jr. and 3rd Asst. Chief Louis Trebisacci — is then able to select each of the officers and provide them with assignments such as overseeing ladder truck response, developing and implementing training, leading special hazards response teams and more.
The officers are also able to provide better administrative support by offering secondary leadership for non-business hours including nights and weekends.
"It provides much needed relief for those chiefs, especially on weekend shifts," Mackay said.
The line officer positions are volunteer-based roles and those selected are appointed to serve two-year terms. Those appointed could continue to serve, but would need to receive nomination and be reappointed by the chiefs as part of the biennial selection process.
The Westerly Fire District's newest line officers were ceremonially sworn in last month, but Mackay said each was selected as part of the restructuring process in the spring and have served in their capacities since June 1.
Scott Fricke and Sammy Homsi were selected to serve as the department captains during the current term, which runs from June 1, 2020, through May 31, 2022. They are joined by lieutenants Dwayne Baker, Ed Haik, Doug Henderson and Justin Izzi.
All six were recognized at the annual meeting on Aug. 26.
Mackay said with the new officers in place, the department's procedures and structure now fall more directly in line with federal standards. Conforming to these standards will aid the agency in continuing to provide exemplary services moving forward, he said.
In a social media message announcing the new officers, members of the board of directors said they were thankful for the support and to the agency "for embracing the new department line officers as we look to move the Westerly Fire Department forward."