Firefighters typically take a pledge to show concern for others, a willingness to help those in need, the courage to perform the job’s duties, and the dedication to serve unselfishly.

On Monday yeserda, July 24, Wilton’s firefighters fulfilled that pledge without even heading to a fire or an emergency. Instead, they welcomed 10-year-old Colin Toland all the way from Ithaca, NY to be sworn in as the Wilton Fire Department‘s newest (and youngest) honorary deputy chief.

The department planned a ceremony quickly after receiving a call late Friday afternoon from Wilton resident Scott Gance, asking if Wilton’s bravest would help make Colin’s visit to the area special. Several years ago, Gance founded the Honorine St. Jude Golf Classic golf tournament as an annual fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As a St. Jude patient, Colin and his family were honorees at the event, being held at Silvermine Golf Club.

When Colin was 2 years old, he was diagnosed with ependymoma, a large malignant tumor in the fourth ventricle of his brain, an area that controls the body’s most basic functions. Since having the surgery to remove the tumor years ago, he spent several years in remission until it returned in early 2015 and spread.

Still, it hasn’t kept him from pursuing his dream of becoming a police officer, made a reality by his hometown Police Department in Ithaca. He’s been embraced by the department there, and now Gance was hoping Wilton’s uniformed officers would do the same during Colin’s short time in town.

After Gance’s call, Wilton Fire Chief Ronald Kanterman invited members of the Wilton Police Department and Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps to be on hand to celebrate Colin. On Monday morning, he was greeted the fire station by several of Wilton’s emergency responders, sworn in, and gifted with lots of gear–a Wilton Fire Department hat, shirt and patch; Police Department shoulder patches; and a Wilton EMS Jr. EMT badge, blanket, coloring book and baseball cap.

Then, Colin was joined by his parents and older brother for a ride to Silvermine on fire truck No. 5, accompanied by Engine No. 1.

“We loaded everybody up onto the trucks and took them down to the golf course. About 1,000 ft. out from the course, we put all the lights on, made all the noise, and pulled up in grand style, and ushered Colin into the building to a round of rousing applause,” Kanterman describes.

The events were clearly moving to everyone, including the chief.

“It was a neat moment for us. I tell people, what we do on a daily basis is hard work; this one was easy,” Kanterman says, noting that this was the first such request he’s received in the three years he’s been chief of the department.

The reaction was special too. Colin was thrilled to enjoy one of his favorite things–hanging out in the fire department’s Day Room before the ride to Silvermine, and his parents were truly appreciative of everything, Kanterman says. The firefighters even helped kick off the tournament’s shotgun start by blowing the fire truck’s airhorn, and they were just as pleased to be a part of Colin’s day as he was to become an honorary member of the department.

“It’s why we’re here. We’re part and parcel to the community, we’re supposed to be part of the heart and soul of the town. It’s hard to say know to a request like this, to give a child and his parents a couple moments of happiness, this was very easy for us to do,” Kanterman says.


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photos and video courtesy of Officer Colin Facebook page, WVAC and Wilton Fire Department

One reply on “10-Y.O. Boy Named Wilton’s Honorary Deputy Fire Chief”

  1. This story 1) reflects the heart and dedication of the Wilton Fire Department and 2) Shows how Police and EMS easily come together to serve our town. A great job.

    Ross Tartell, Fire Commissioner

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