By Michelle Ford, Probationary Member of the KVFC.
(July 15, 2021) — During the annual elections held on Monday, July 12, the members of the Killingworth Volunteer Fire Company (KVFC) elected former Deputy Chief Donnie Venuti to the position of Fire Chief. Venuti, who ran unopposed for the position, replaces Richard Bauer who chose to step down as Fire Chief but will now serve as the Station 1 Assistant Chief. Venuti’s previous role as Deputy Chief will now be filled by 39-year member Bill Shipman. Bauer, also a 39-year member of the KVFC, has served a total of 12 years as the KVFC Fire Chief. When passing the Chief’s badge to Venuti on Monday night, Bauer said of the change, “I couldn’t be prouder of how Donnie has grown personally and professionally over the last 15 years. He’s a highly qualified and competent fire officer who will do a great job leading the KVFC. His commitment to the Company, particularly over the last three years as Deputy Chief, has positioned him well to not only be successful as our Fire Chief but to also provide a seamless transition for our members.”
Chief Venuti, who is also a full-time firefighter and EMT in the Town of Guilford, joined the KVFC in 2006 and has held a number of roles in the Company, including Quartermaster, Training Officer, Captain, Assistant Chief, Deputy Chief and served on a number of committees. Regarding his new role, Venuti said, “I am honored to follow in the footsteps of my mentor and best friend, Chief Bauer. Also, looking forward to leading and working with the officers and members of the KVFC. We will continue to carry on the mission of the KVFC and provide the Town with the best fire and EMS services possible.”
Before stepping down, Chief Bauer presented the annual Chief’s Award to member and Company Secretary Paul Schilling in recognition of his pride, dedication, and commitment to the KVFC. In his nearly 30 years of service to the KVFC Schilling, a retired Middletown Police Department Sergeant and Captain with the Regional Water Authority in New Haven, has served as a Lieutenant, Secretary and Administrator for the Company. “Paul is like a breath of fresh air when he pulls up to a call,” said Bauer. “His wisdom and experience have made him a tremendous mentor and a great sounding board for me over the years.”
In recognition of the outgoing Chief, Schilling said of Bauer, “Leading a department of this size through such a complicated time as COVID, he got everybody to pull together and always made good, solid decisions for the Department.” During his 39 years with the KVFC, Bauer has served as Chief four times, with the most recent stint beginning in 2018. Over his last three years as Chief, in addition to leading the Company through the COVID-19 pandemic, Bauer helped complete the Company’s financial and accounting processes update, transitioned the Company’s reporting and documentation to a fully-electronic system, abandoning the antiquated paper-based system, oversaw the implementation of significant improvements to the communications system which included getting radios for all firefighters, managed Station 1 physical and security improvements, helped to develop an improved training program for members, and, according to Schilling, “probably a dozen other things. He lead us through big changes and improvements.”
Service awards were presented to Ralph Knockwood (40 years), Andy Kuczma (35 years), and Michael Carri, Pete Cumpstone and Paul Jacobs, each for 20 years of service. The membership also voted probationary members Lisa Sizer and Patrick Dooley into full-time active membership, bringing the total active membership to 55.
To learn more about the KVFC and to find a complete list of KVFC officers, please visit the newly updated website at www.killingworth-fire.org. The KVFC relies on dedicated volunteers from the community and any Killingworth resident interested in serving are encouraged to contact the department by email at FireChief@TownofKillingworth.com.