Friday was day of fond farewells
NORWICH - Throughout the day on Friday the airwaves came alive on the radio repeaters on either side of the Connecticut River as dozens of professional and volunteer fire departments as well as emergency dispatch centers each took a moment one-by-one to wish long-time Norwich Fire Chief Steven Leinoff well on his last day before retirement.
Leinoff was praised for both his decade of service to the town of Norwich and his nearly three decades spent before that as a captain on the neighboring Hartford fire department. He was also recognized for his efforts on behalf of the fire service itself, especially his role in training firefighters from across the region over the years as an instructor at the Vermont Fire Academy.
Leinoff began his firefighting career with two years in Montpelier, long before computer technology played any role in the fire service, and he rose through the ranks to become the first ever full-time chief hired by the town of Norwich in an era when state and federal regulations, advanced medical skills, digital organization, microprocessor based communications and hazardous materials are every bit as much of the day-to-day routines of Norwich's 98-year-old volunteer fire department as are the hose lines and big red trucks.
On his last day, Leinoff showed numerous firefighters and other first responders who stopped by to say goodbye around Norwich's brand new $1.5 million combined police and fire station. The town is still in the process of hiring a new chief and Leinoff said he will still be a presence at the station in the coming months in order to help with the transition once a new chief is selected.
Chief Leinoff (in dress blue) chats with his fellow Norwich firefighters at his reception Friday
Some of Leinoff's helmets from the past 40 years
A length of firehose signed by Norwich's volunteer firefighters
Norwich Firefighter Linda Cook shows guests around the new fire station
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