The Shelton Fire Department earned high praise Saturday, being tabbed as the state’s top fire department by the American Legion Department of Connecticut.

Representatives of each of Shelton’s four fire companies — Echo Hose Hook and Ladder Co. #1, Huntington Fire Co. #3, Shelton Fire Co. #4 (Pine Rock Park), and White Hills Voluntary Fire Co. #5 — were on hand to accept the award, for which the department was nominated by Sutter-Terlizzi American Legion Post 16 of Shelton.

“The Shelton Fire Department is extremely honored to have been nominated by the Charles W. Sutter & Angelo Terlizzi Post #16 and selected as the Fire Department of the Year by the American Legion Department of Connecticut’s membership,” said Fire Chief Francis T. Jones III, who was joined by fire department Capts. Donald Zak, Robert Finta, Carlos Chang and Mike Minardo at the presentation.

“To be honored by the members of the American Legion, who are America’s heroes, is a true honor,” added Jones, “and it speaks volumes to the service and dedication provided by the all-volunteer membership of the fire companies.”

According to the American Legion Department of Connecticut, the Fire Department of the Year designation is awarded annually to the state fire department that “while in the pursuit of its profession and by exceptional performance of duty, brings credit to that fire department and the community for performance in the field of public safety, children and youth, community awareness projects, and participation in patriotic observances.”

Shelton’s fire companies were nominated by Sutter-Terlizzi American Legion Post 16 of Shelton for serving more than 42,000 residents, plus hundreds of commercial buildings, and responding to incidents on state highways and conducting public safety education programs while still “finding time to volunteer for causes other than their own.

“On top of countless hours of training and answering over a thousand emergency calls per year the department is also very active in the community,” stated the local American Legion Post in its nomination of the Shelton Fire Department.

Shelton firefighters participate in Memorial Eve and Memorial Day services in Shelton along with the Legion. Local fire companies also participate in Flag Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day services. The four fire companies also support community programs, such as Toys 4 Kids, Relay for Life and the Sunset Road Race for the Warriors, and many other programs on an annual basis.

“Shelton’s all-volunteer fire department goes above and beyond the call for community, state and nation on so many levels,” stated the local Legion. “They truly are Shelton’s bravest. Many fire department members also are active members and officers of American Legion Post 16 in Shelton. Sutter-Terlizzi American Legion Post 16 proudly salutes the Shelton Fire Department.”

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com