Long Branch: The Long Branch Fire Department swore in the new Chiefs for 2013, a New Year’s Day tradition which carried a more somber, reflective air this January 1st. Speakers recalled 2012 as a year that brought challenges and evoked team and individual courage.
It was a year of willing and able first responders and civilian volunteers at the department’s side in Hurricane Sandy, the West End fire, the heroism in fires that came in the days following the Superstorm. Included in the reflections were the incidents of lost lives on the beach.
The ceremony began with Diane Johantgen singing the National Anthem.
In his invocation Monsignor “Father Sam” Sirianni thanked all the first responders in the city and the nation who “gave of themselves to protect and serve. It brings a sense of security for us all”, he said.
Ex-Chief Buster Bentley recounted the events of 2012. “Even if we were told on this day a year ago what the year would hold for us, we would have said ‘We’re staying. It’s why we are here.” His words were the message of Mayor Adam Schneider and Council President Joy Bastelli, as city leaders recognized the efforts of the department, other emergency services and citizen volunteers.
Judge Eugene Iadanza swore in Chief Angelo Ciaglia who was accompanied by bothers Mark and Michael. First Asst. Chief Joseph Sirianni was accompanied by his mother, Marie and wife Ann Marie to whom he presented a long-stemmed red rose.
For Nancy Stout, wife of Second Asst. Chief Kevin Stout the red rose was accompanied by a kiss just before her placing his pin on his lapel. Ex-Chief Bentley had enjoyed a similar moment with his wife Debbie earlier.
The usual humor came with 2nd Asst. Chief Stout’s ceremonial dressing in his full firefighter gear, assisted by 1st Asst. Chief Joe Sirianni.
Bentley closed the formalities with thank you gifts to several officials and volunteers who had helped the department prepare for the future with funding for a new vehicle, lifesaving gear and other needed supplies.
Chaplain Father Dan closed the ceremony with a prayer for all.