Wednesday’s beautiful weather allowed the Wilton Fire Department to hold one of the first in-person events (albeit socially distanced) since March, and for GOOD reason: Capt. Jim Blanchfield, a longtime Wilton firefighter, was “pinned” and officially named as the department’s Deputy Fire Chief.

The promotion was also the precursor to Blanchfield eventually taking over as Fire Chief of the department, a post he’ll assume when Interim Fire Chief Geoff Herald finishes up his term, which is scheduled to happen at the end of October.

About two dozen Wilton firefighters and police officers stood outside the fire truck bays six (or more) feet apart as Town Clerk Lori Kaback administered the oath of office to Blanchfield.

Herald offered his words of congratulations as he conducted the pinning ceremony.

“I present to you the physical manifestations of the representative of the badges of deputy chief of the Wilton fire department. These small pieces of brass represent the history and the capabilities of the fire service in general, but to you, it represents your personal achievement and your personal focus and dedication to protecting the citizens and the visitors to Wilton. I congratulate you on this promotion and I wish you the best of luck.”

Herald acknowledged just how momentous it was for Blanchfield, who began as a volunteer firefighter in Trumbull to rise through the ranks there to become Captain, and then do the same thing in Wilton, a department staffed by career firefighters.

“Accepting a new deputy chief into the service and taking his knowledge, his training, and his history, and combining it with the history of the fire service in general and the men of the fire department here, represented, is something that we all look forward to and acknowledge as being the natural progression,” Herald said, noting, “It’s very critical that we honor that.”

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice acknowledged the same accomplishment, especially after Blanchfield rose through the ranks in addition to simultaneously building a career as an attorney.

“Jim, I want to congratulate you. It’s always wonderful when somebody can be promoted from within. It does say a lot about you, the fact that you were a volunteer and started in a different career, and then to be able to achieve the success that you have. Congratulations, we know you’re going to do a great job,” she said.

Blanchfield spoke about the collaboration between all emergency responders in Wilton as he accepted the promotion and looked forward to taking the reins.

“I’m not here today if it’s not for the team we have here, not just from the Wilton Fire Department, but PD, EMS, everything. It is a real collaborative team that we have in Wilton. We’re not the biggest town but I think we operate in a fashion where we are lean, we are mean, and we work very hard,” Blanchfield said.

“I’m lucky to be here today. I’m honored to be here today and I hope that, with respect to working here for as long as I have, I’d like to think I’ve learned a lot, not just here but also from the community. If I take those thoughts and what I’ve learned and bring it to the front office, we’re going to be in good shape,” he said, adding, “I look forward to working with you all. It’s a different hat, but the same people. It’s just fantastic and I’m very appreciative.”

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