Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Richard T. McGlynn:
First Professional Fire Chief
Richard T. McGlynn was fated to be a fireman. He was born in 1927 literally across the street from the firehouse and his grandfather, Michael T. McGlynn, had been a founder of the fire department in 1895.
He began fighting fires as a high school kid during World War II when many of the regular volunteers were in the service. When he was old enough, he joined the U.S. Navy during the war and served as a seaman in the Pacific aboard the USS Hugh Purvis, a convoy carrier.
After the war he worked in the family plumbing business while resuming service as a volunteer firefighter.
In 1950, only a couple of years after Ridgefield created the position of paid, full-time fireman, Dick McGlynn joined the paid force of four men. Still also a volunteer, he was elected chief of the volunteer department from 1964 to 1968.
In 1973, he became the paid department’s first chief, a post he held until his retirement in 1989. (In the early years, he was both the paid and volunteer chief at the same time.)
“He’s one of those rare individuals who gives everything of himself to the town,” said First Selectman Sue Manning at his retirement banquet.
When he started with the paid department, it had four people, enough to schedule one person on duty around the clock, seven days a week. If a call came in, that man could roll the ambulance or a fire truck while volunteers were being summoned.
Much changed in the McGlynn years. There was one ambulance, one firehouse, and four fire trucks when he started. By the time he retired, there were 26 men, two ambulances, eight trucks, and two firehouses.
He died in 2009 at the age of 82.
At McGlynn’s retirement party, Police Chief Thomas Rotunda suggested that if the long-discussed “new firehouse” is ever built, it should be named the “McGlynn Firehouse.” After all, he said, one McGlynn helped found and lead the volunteers a century earlier, and another led the development of a modern professional department that still works side-by-side with volunteers.
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