A new leader has been installed in the largest fire department in western Massachusetts.
According to his parents, Bernard “BJ” Calvi had wanted to be a firefighter since he was 3 years old; now he is in command of the Springfield Fire Department and its more than 230 professional firefighters.
" For 224 years the Springfield Fire Department has served the city of Springfield and its residents. That is a proud tradition I hope to maintain as we move forward," said Calvi.
As his parents looked on from the front row, his wife Carrie pinned the gold commissioner’s badge on Calvi’s chest.
The installation ceremony was held in the Mahogany Room at Springfield Symphony Hall. About 150 people were there including family and friends, dozens of colleagues from the fire services and city officials.
Calvi said his goal is to assure the safety of the city’s firefighters and residents.
" In this day and age there are threats around every corner from terrorism and violence everybody in the fire services and public safety need to watch out for each other's backs," said Calvi.
The new commissioner will hit the ground running to assess staffing and equipment needs and make budget recommendations to the mayor within the next couple of months.
" I've looked a few things over, and it looks like we are in pretty good shape," said Calvi in an interview. "I want to maximize the efficiency of the department to make sure we are doing the most we can for the citizens."
Mayor Domenic Sarno announced the hiring of Calvi last October. The former deputy chief with the Agawam Fire Department succeeds Joseph Conant who was Springfield Fire Commissioner for five years. Sarno chose not to reappoint Conant, who is still with the department as a deputy chief.
Sarno said Calvi brings “hands-on experience” to the job.
" We have one of the most respected fire departments in the country," said Sarno. "Skills have been honed at the academy, so Commissioner Calvi we give you a well-trained fire department as we move forward."
Also speaking at the installation ceremony was State Fire Marshall Peter Ostroskey, who said he has known Calvi for five years and described him as “talented and capable.”
Ostroskey said the state’s fire services have a close working relationship with the Springfield Fire Department. The state and the city partnered to develop a $13 million training academy in Springfield.
As for Calvi’s parents, Joan and Bruce Calvi of Clarksburg, Massachusetts, they could not be happier for their son.
" We are ecstatic, very very proud," said Bruce Calvi. Joan Calvi added "He had all the aspirations to reach this goal and he worked at it very hard his whole life."
Calvi signed a 5-year contract with a starting salary of $145,000, according to the mayor’s office.