Former big-city fire chief is Shelton’s new public safety director

The former fire chief of Bridgeport and Waterbury will serve as the city’s new director of public safety and emergency services management.

Michael A. Maglione lives in Shelton and is chairman of the Shelton Board of Fire Commissioners. He is expected to begin his new position next week and will be paid in the $65,000 to $70,000 range annually, according to Mayor Mark Lauretti

Lauretti has appointed Maglione and, on Thursday night, the Board of Aldermen approved his contract.

The position of director of public safety and emergency services management already exists in Shelton but recently has been vacant.

Maglione looks forward to ‘challenge’

“I see it as a challenge,” Maglione said of his new job. “I’ve had administrative experience running large organizations, and I see this as being related to that.”

Maglione said as Fire Commission chairman, his interaction with the fire department in Shelton — made up of four volunteer companies — has “been very enlightening. They are a good group of people who are devoted to the city.”

‘Right person for the job’

Lauretti said he views Maglione’s background as “a good fit” for the position. “You have to have the right person for the job,” the mayor said.

Maglione was Waterbury fire chief from 2005-2011 and Bridgeport fire chief from 1997-2005.

In his new Shelton position, he will coordinate services during emergencies among the police, fire, EMS and city Department of Emergency Management (DEM), while also interacting with public works, public health and other agencies.

“He’ll oversee coordination of emergency services in times of blizzards, hurricanes, earthquakes and 58-car backups,” said Lauretti, listing some examples of possible emergencies.

Exact role debated

Exactly what Maglione’s role would be came up during the Board of Aldermen meeting, with questions about whether he would oversee the other departments or work with them.

Alderman John F. Anglace Jr., board president, said the ordinance creating the position spells out the duties, and that essentially involves being “the administrator, coordinator, evaluator and supervisor” of emergency services. He said the public safety director would work with all departments and report directly to the mayor.

Alderman Jack Finn said from his viewpoint, the other departments would “all be reporting to [the public safety director].”

Alderman John P. Papa said Maglione would “coordinate all these functions.”

Alderman Anthony F. Simonetti said the person in the position therefore would decide how the city DEM operates “during the next 100-year-storm,” a reference to earlier board discussion about DEM’s exact role during the recent blizzard.

It also was mentioned that the ordinance creating the public safety director’s position mentions “civil defense,” a term for agencies that focused on civilian preparedness for possible military attacks during the major world wars and then the Cold War. Civil defense is a term generally not used anymore in government in the United States.

The aldermen approved the contract with Maglione by 8-0.

Lauretti: Funding will be found

Lauretti said he would include funding for the position in next year’s proposed budget, and the necessary funds would be found within the current budget for the three-and-a-half months left in this fiscal year.

Lauretti said he essentially has had to oversee emergency operations in recent years, coordinating activities between departments and making calls to outside agencies and contractors.

“I’ve been doing all this stuff and it’s a full-time effort,” he said of dealing with emergencies. When combined with the recent need to focus on school security needs, he said it’s time to hire someone to handle the duties.

“This is about coordinating emergency services,” Lauretti said. “With what went on at Sandy Hook, everyone is looking to do things differently — as they should be.”

Plus, he said, a public safety director also could assist with the technology upgrades needed in the various emergency response departments.

Maglione’s background

Maglione grew up in Bridgeport and has lived in Shelton for 17 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in history and an associate’s degree in fire administration and technology.

He worked for 39 years in fire services and emergency management, and was a member of the state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Coordinating Council. He spent his early firefighting career in Bridgeport.

“Mr. Maglione’s qualifications are outstanding,” Alderman Noreen McGorty said.

Lauretti said he didn’t interview anyone else for the position because Maglione is “eminently qualified.”

Maglione is married with five children and 11 grandchildren.