Fire Officers provide structure in the department and leadership on the fire ground. Although it is every member's responsibility to ensure that the department is always ready to respond to, and mitigate any incident to which we may be dispatched, it is the officer's primary responsibility to ensure departmental readiness. This is accomplished by implementing a proper training curriculum which is revising as needed, ensuring that appropriate equipment is available and maintained in good working order, and by making command decisions and providing direction at incidents, just to name a few.
The Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company currently utilizes a command structure of twenty-three officers. At the top of the chain of command is the Chief of the Department assisted by two Deputy Chiefs and two Assistant Chiefs. One Captain is assigned to each of the six fire stations to administrate operations. Two Lieutenants are also assigned to each station who help lead crews and oversee apparatus readiness.
Members of the Fire Company don't select their fire officers by voting. Instead, the Chief of the Department is appointed by the Fire District, who serves an opened-ended term at the Fire District's pleasure. Adjutant Chiefs are selected by the Department Chief. Captains are promoted from the Lieutenant ranks by the Chief of the Department. Appointment to the rank of Lieutenant is determined by résumé, a practical exam, an oral interview with a committee composed of Chiefs and Captains, and a one-on-one interview with the Chief of the Department.
You can learn about the Chiefs of the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company, who are responsible for leading our department, in the section below. Photographs of the Captains and Lieutenants can be found on the Fire Stations pages.
CHIEF OF THE DEPARTMENT
James A. Baldis
A member of the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company since 1975, James A. Baldis was promoted to Chief of the Department in January 2005. As Chief of the Department, James Baldis is ultimately responsible for managing all aspects of the department. These duties include but are certainly not limited to developing Standard Operating Procedures for the Fire Company to operate by, establishing goals for the Fire Company and its members and providing the leadership and discipline needed to reach them, and managing emergency incidents as a command officer by providing direction and making decisions necessary to mitigate the incident.
Chief Baldis first became an officer in 1983 when he was promoted to Lieutenant. In 1993 he was elevated to Captain and assigned to the West Simsbury Station. Then in 1996, James Baldis was appointed to Assistant Chief, where he also served as the department's Training Officer during his tenure. Prior to his promotion as Chief of the Department, James Baldis served for nearly six years as Deputy Chief, second in command of the department.
Chief James Baldis has extensive training in the fields of business management and the fire service, making him well qualified to lead the department. He has attended the Business Management program at the University of Hartford and TQM Company Quality Improvement Training by the Forum Corporation, and is a graduate of the Times Mirror Executive Leadership Institute, just to name a few.
Chief Baldis has attended the Fire Department Instructors Conference numerous times, and has also taken many classes presented by the National Fire Academy of Emmitsburg, Maryland, and the Connecticut Fire Academy in Windsor Locks. Some of his qualifications include Trench Rescue and Confined Space Rescue, and state certifications as a Safety Officer, Hazardous Materials Technician and Medical Response Technician (MRT).
James Baldis is certified by the State of Connecticut as a Fire Service Instructor I, and has taught for the Hartford Country Regional Fire School at the Connecticut Fire Academy since 1980. He was named an Assistant Director of Training for HCRFS in 2003, and his duties include coordinating instructors for classes, ensuring documentation requirements are met for training activities in order to achieve state certification, and overseeing all outside department requests for live fire training at the facility.
Chief Baldis is a member of the Fire Department Safety Officers Association, Connecticut Fire Chiefs Association, New England Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Society of Fire Service Instructors and the National Fire Protection Association.
Michael J. Jepeal
Having joined the Tariffville Fire Company in 1974 and achieved the rank of Captain, Michael J. Jepeal joined the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company in 1983 with the merger of the two Companies. Chief Jepeal advanced through the ranks of the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company while assigned at Tariffville Station, being promoted to Lieutenant and then Captain. From 1993 to 1998, he also served as the Captain-in-charge of the Junior Firefighters Program.
In January 2005, Michael Jepeal was elevated to Deputy Chief, second in command of the department. One of his many duties as Deputy Chief is to oversee the readiness of the department's apparatus fleet and fire/rescue equipment. Prior to this appointment, Michael Jepeal served as the 2nd Assistant Chief in charge of training.
Training firefighters seems to run in Chief Jepeal's blood. Beginning in 1990, he started as a Junior Instructor with the Hartford County Fire Emergency Plan as was promoted to Senior Instructor the following year. In 1994, he started as a Head Instructor for the Hartford County Regional Fire School until 2003 when he was promoted to First Assistant Director. In that same year, he was recognized for the improvement of the Firefighter I and Firefighter II training programs. Since 1996, Michael Jepeal has also been a Fire Service Instructor at the Connecticut State Fire Academy, and has served as the Lead Instructor for the 1998 to 2003 recruit classes.
Chief Michael Jepeal was recognized for his outstanding work in the training of firefighters when in 2001, he was honored with the Instructor of the Year Award by the Connecticut Fire Department Instructors Association.
Not surprisingly, Chief Jepeal has attended numerous training classes himself such as the Fire Department Instructors Conference, the International Association of Fire Chief's Volunteer & Combination Officers SectionSymposiums, and seminars at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Chief Jepeal holds an extensive list of fire service certifications from the State of Connecticut.
In addition, Chief Michael Jepeal has served on many station building and apparatus committees for the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company, and has been recognized twice by the Fire Company with the Chief's Award.
CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER
Kevin J. Kowalski
A member of the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company since 1974, Deputy Chief Kevin J. Kowalski has been in the fire protection and prevention fields for 30 years. While in the Connecticut Air National Guard, he held the rank of Master Sergeant and served as the Assistant Chief of Operations at the Bradley Air Guard National Base. For 11 years he was the Fire Chief for Kaman Aerospace Corporation where he managed the fire protection for all facilities including directing an aircraft fire rescue team.
Since 1988, Kevin Kowalski has been employed by the Simsbury Fire District as the Fire Marshal where his duties include fire prevention for the town through programs such as building inspections and public fire education, and working with town officials on pertinent issues such as alarm ordinances, the Knox Box program, and writing pre-plan.
Besides the typical duties associated with being a chief at emergency and non-emergency incidents, Kevin Kowalski is also assigned as the Chief of Administrative Services. These duties include but are not limited to budgeting, facilitating the ISO inspection, and directing committees on issues such as the departmental communication system and the Fire District automation committee.
Chief Kowalski earned his Fire Protection Rating from the U.S. Air Force, an Associate's Degree in Fire Science from the Community College of the Air Force, has National Fire Protection Association certifications as a Fire Marshal, Fire Instructor, Fire Officer III and Fire Safety Officer from the State of Connecticut, and aWMD Instructor certification from the Department of Homeland Security, just to name a few.
Chief Kowalski is a member of several professional organizations, having served as past president for the Capitol Region Fire Marshals Association, Connecticut Fire Marshals Association and New England Association of Fire Marshals. In addition, Chief Kowalski has served as the Civil Preparedness Director for the Town of Simsbury since 1990, and is the Vice-Chairman of the State of Connecticut Commission on Fire Prevention and Control.
1ST ASSISTANT CHIEF
CHIEF OF PERSONNEL
Patrick T. Tourville
Patrick T. Tourville first entered the fire service in 1980 as a Fire Cadet with the Avon Volunteer Fire Department. During his time in Avon, Patrick Tourville was promoted to 1st Lieutenant and served as Program Manager for the Cadet Program. In 1997 he joined the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company and was appointed to Lieutenant in 2001 before being promoted to Captain of the Tariffville Station in 2005. In November 2007 Patrick Tourville was elevated to the rank of 2nd Assistant Chief and assigned as the Chief of Personnel, and promoted to 1st Assistant Chief in April 2009.
As Chief of Personnel, Patrick Tourville is responsible for managing the department's most valuable resource, its people! This important duty starts with overseeing the Personnel Committee and guiding prospective Fire Company candidates through the interview process. As Personnel Chief, Patrick Tourville is also responsible for the health and safety programs within the department.
Chief Patrick Tourville has received extensive training and holds several certifications from the Hartford County Regional Fire School, the Connecticut Fire Academy, the National Fire Academy and the Federal Emergency Management Association. These include but are not limited to Firefighter II, NFPA 472 Hazardous Materials Technician, Fire Service Instructor I, Fire Officer I and Safety Officer.
Chief Tourville is certified by the Environmental Protection Association and State of Connecticut as a Hazardous Materials Technician and has been certified as a WMD General Instructor and Incident Response to Terrorist Bombings Instructor by the Center for Domestic Preparedness, in addition to having received Chemical, Ordinance, Biological and Radiological (COBRA) training from the same. Patrick Tourville leads the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company's Hazardous Materials Response Team which is an integral part of the Capitol Region Council of Governments Regional Hazmat Response Team.
Since 1999, Patrick Tourville has been employed by the Simsbury Fire District as the Deputy Fire Marshal. These duties include maintaining and performing the annual inspection program for approximately 1,500 properties, investigating origin, cause and circumstances of fire and explosion incidents, and developing and implementing fire education programs for residents, schools, civic groups and other organizations within the town. Patrick Tourville was tasked with implementing an annual fire extinguisher training program for all town employees.
Chief Patrick Tourville is a certified Fire Marshal by the State of Connecticut and a certified Fire Inspector I by the National Board of Fire Service Professionals. Additionally, Chief Tourville has served as President of the New England Association of Fire Marshals, Capitol Region Fire Marshals Association, and Connecticut Fire Marshals Association, as well as currently representing the state of Connecticut as the National Fire Protection AssociationsPublic Education Network representative which is a network of Public Fire and Life Safety Educators from across the United States and Canada. Chief Tourville also is a member of the Connecticut Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators and the National Fire Protection Association.
2ND ASSISTANT CHIEF
CHIEF OF TRAINING
Randall L. Chesanek
A member of the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company since 1986 when he entered the Junior Firefighters Program, 2nd Assistant Chief Randall L. Chesanek holds the distinction of being our first member to join the department as a Junior Firefighter and advance all the way to the rank of Chief. Having developed a love and appreciation for the fire service during his early years in the Fire Company, Randall Chesanek pursued it as a career and became a full-time firefighter in a department outside of Simsbury in 1998.
Chief Chesanek became an officer in 1993 when he was appointed to the rank of Lieutenant at Bushy Hill Station, and he was later promoted to Captain of the station in 2003. Chief Chesanek has also served as the department's Rescue Captain and Training Captain. Prior to becoming an officer he served as an engineer on each of the station's three apparatus.
In 1997, Randall Chesanek was a member of the self-contained breathing apparatus committee which tested and recommended a replacement SCBA for the department's aging units. As a member of this committee, Randall Chesanek was a shared recipient of the Chief's Award given to the committee for their hard work. He additionally served on the committees tasked with designing replacement apparatus Engine 2 and Rescue 14.
In April 2009 Randall Chesanek was elevated to the position of 2nd Assistant Chief and assigned as the Chief of Training. As Chief of Training, Randy Chesanek is responsible for managing all aspects of the department's training program. This responsibility includes overseeing our internal training curriculum, scheduling drills and refreshers so that all certifications remain current, properly documenting all training activities and filing the necessary documentation with the appropriate agencies.
Chief Randall Chesanek has received extensive training himself. He has attended the Fire Department Instructors Conference and holds several certifications from the Hartford County Regional Fire School, theConnecticut Fire Academy, the National Fire Academy and the Federal Emergency Management Association. These include but are not limited to Firefighter III, Fire Service Instructor I, Fire Officer I, Rope Rescue Technician, Pump Operator, and Aerial Operator. He is an Emergency Medical Technician and is certified by theEnvironmental Protection Association as a Hazardous Materials Technician. He additionally has received training in the National Incident Management System, Incident Command System and Terrorism Response.