Fire department in Trumbull to get new chief

TRUMBULL — A new year will bring a new fire chief to the Nichols Fire Department, with the announcement that Andrew Kingsbury will be stepping down effective Jan. 5.

Assistant Chief Raymond Franko will take over as chief. Deputy Chief John DelVento will remain as deputy chief and will assist with the transition.

Kingsbury, who served as chief for four years, said he was proud of the progress the department had made on his watch, particularly in upgrading the department’s equipment and facilities. Nichols, one of three volunteer fire departments in town, was founded in 1917.

“The fleet was in pretty rough shape when I took over,” he said. “We have been able to replace our aerial ladder and squad (trucks), complete a much-needed training facility behind fire headquarters, and expand our bays at the Booth Hill Road station. We are also ushering in a state of the art radio system.”

Still, there are plenty of challenges remaining for Franko, Kingsbury said. The department’s scuba gear is due to be replaced, and one of its pumper trucks still sees frontline service despite being nearly 40 years old.

“I am confident that Chief Franko and his staff will be able to accomplish those goals and much more,” Kingsbury said.

Kingsbury, who began volunteering for the department in 1980 while still a student at Trumbull High School, has been chief for the past four years. He also spent 30 years as a career firefighter in Westport, including six years as fire chief. Franko has been with the department since 1986, holding numerous leadership roles. His father, Raymond Franko Sr., was also a Nichols firefighter, achieving the rank of lieutenant.

The transition will take place at the department’s annual meeting when Fire Commission Chairman Pat Freyer will swear in the new officers.

“I am glad Assistant Chief Franko has accepted the challenge, and I echo Chief Kingsbury’s confidence in his leadership,” Freyer said.

Kingsbury will continue on as Trumbull’s deputy emergency management director and as a teaching adjunct at the Connecticut Fire Academy. But he is looking forward to having more free time, he said.

“I have a lot of home improvement projects to get caught up on,” he said.