Shelton won`t appeal ruling on fire chief 
   By JOE MUSANTE        Wednesday, June 28, 2000           
               SHELTON - The Board of Fire Commissioners is unlikely to appeal a Superior Court decision requiring the city to retest for the positions of fire chief and two assistant chiefs, Chairman Ken Nappi said Tuesday. 

               The board also voted 4 to 1 during a special meeting at the Emergency Services Headquarters to appoint Fire Chief John Millo acting chief for 60 days, beginning July 1. 

               The vote also appointed assistant fire chiefs Justin Sabatino, Stephen Nesteriak, Edward Kozak Jr., Sam Stern as acting assistant fire chiefs.  Daryl Osiecki was voted acting assistant chief of the fire prevention bureau; Paul Zito as acting deputy chief of fire communications; and James Kassheimer as acting assistant superintendent of fire communications.  Those appointments are also for 60 days, beginning July 1. 

               "I think the consensus of the board is not to appeal," Nappi said after the meeting, which included a 65-minute executive session with Corporation Counsel Thomas Welch. 

               Nappi said that, with the terms of the chief and assistant chiefs set to expire June 30, it did not seem prudent to appeal because it would likely be a lengthy process. 

               Nevertheless, he said, the panel maintains the right to file an appeal until July 13, which is 20 days after the decision by Judge George W. Ripley  was released. 

               Ripley ruled that the appointment of Millo, Sabatino and Nesteriak 18  months ago was illegal and must be vacated. 

               Seven firefighters filed a lawsuit against the city and the commission last  year, alleging that the testing was improper. 

               They charged that testing rules were changed midway, since none of the three men had passed the written exam and that the verbal portion of the exam then became open to all applicants. 

               The defendants said only one individual, Soren Ibsen, passed the written exam for both chief and assistant chief and that they were looking for a larger pool of candidates.  Ibsen was one of the firefighters who filed the suit, but neither he nor any of the plaintiffs sought to become chief through the suit. 

               A two-day trial was held in April. 

               Ripley sided with the plaintiffs, saying in his decision that the commission could legally have voided the tests, but instead opted to change the rules, in a move that he said "smacks of unfairness." 

               Last week, the commission voted to extend the terms of the chief and assistant chiefs for 30 days as it prepared new job descriptions.  But the panel opted for a 60-day "acting" period. 

               Nappi said the extra time would ensure a realistic time line to prepare a new and fair appointment process. 

               "We want to make sure we have a continuity of command," Nappi said. 

               Joe Musante, who covers Shelton, can be reached at 736-5440.