Reform process begins for hiring top fire officials
By Rick Scavetta, Register Staff             July 11, 2000

SHELTON — The Board of Fire Commissioners will meet Wednesday to discuss job descriptions for top fire department officials.

The meeting will mark the city’s first move toward reform in the wake of its legal battle with seven firefighters over testing standards. 

Last month a Superior Court judge ruled that the commission unfairly changed its rules when it appointed the chief and two assistant chiefs. 

The job descriptions have not been updated in nearly 20 years, said Director of Public Safety Kenneth F. Nappi, who is also chairman of the fire commission. The commissioners will discuss proposals to be aired at a meeting July 19, Nappi said. 

"We’re updating the descriptions to more accurately reflect the duties of today’s positions," Nappi said. "In addition, we’re working on the appointment and selection process of the chief and assistant chief position." 

The board must meet a 60-day timetable. After Fire Chief John Millo’s term expired June 30, the board appointed Millo as acting fire chief for a temporary 60-day position. 

When testing began two years ago for fire chief and assistant chiefs, controversy began when the department disregarded scores and tested again. 

After a second test, fire commissioners chose Millo to lead the department, although others scored higher. Stephen Nesteriak and Justin Sabatino were appointed as assistant chiefs. 

Angered by the appointments, seven White Hills firefighters hired an attorney to contest the fire commissioners’ hiring practices. 

Last month a Derby Superior Court judge ruled in the firefighters’ favor, saying the commission unfairly changed its rules when it appointed the chief and his two assistants. 

White Hills Capt. Tim Manion, one of the firefighters who filed the lawsuit, said since the judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, the current leadership should be changed. 

He sees the board’s workshop as a first step to new testing procedures. 

"Were in limbo now," Manion said. "We’re hoping they do everything the right way." 

Millo said he’s not as concerned about the board’s discussions as he is about his department. 

"It’s business as usual," Millo said. "I’m not sitting still. We’re looking at some heavy changes." 

Millo said he intends to replace 125 self-contained breathing apparatus and standardize equipment for volunteers.