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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Fire Chief Retires, Successor Named

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe today announced the retirement of Fire Chief Andrew Kingsbury effective March 1 and appointment of his successor, Assistant Chief Robert Yost. WestportNow.com Image
Robert Yost: promoted to chief. Dave Matlow/ WN file photo

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Andy Kingsbury: served five years as chief. Dave Matlow /WN file photo

In addition, Marpe said Deputy Chief Robert Kepchar, a 38-year department veteran, submitted his retirement request several weeks ago to be effective May 31.

Marpe said he accepted a retirement letter from Kingsbury, who joined the department in 1986, with regret.

“The Town of Westport and its residents have been very fortunate to be the beneficiaries of Andy’s expertise and dedication throughout the years,” he said.

Within six months of taking over as chief, Kingsbury led the response to Tropical Storm Irene, the death of an elderly woman in a Center Street house fire, and the devastating fire at the Saugatuck Congregational Church. Later, he oversaw the town’s response to Super Storm Sandy.

As emergency director, he was diligent in seeking FEMA reimbursements for residents whose homes had suffered storm damage, efforts that Marpe lauded.

“On Andy’s watch, Westport has weathered some particularly devastating storms and tense situations with superb preparation and minimal impact because he has been supremely focused and proficient,” he said.

“Moreover, his attention to FEMA reimbursement regulations and opportunities has enabled many Westporters to receive federal financial assistance in repairing/replacing their storm damaged properties.”

“I am proud of the accomplishment we have been able to achieve as a department,” said Kingsbury in a statement.

“Whether safely navigating the storms during 2011-13, or saving the Saugatuck Congregational Church from that devastating fire, I was fortunate to command such a dedicated and talented group of firefighters and fire officers. I know that the department will be in good hands under Robert Yost.”

Kingsbury, 52, was promoted to lieutenant in 2003 and became the department’s training officer as an assistant chief in 2007.

Marpe praised the accomplishments of Yost, also 52 and a 28-year veteran who comes from a family of firefighters. When he joined the department in 1988, his badge was pinned on by his father, Jack Yost, fire chief in Norwalk.

“Rob Yost has the proven ability and expertise to seamlessly and effectively take over the role as chief,” the first selectman said.

“Like Chief Kingsbury, Rob has a breadth of knowledge, skill and understanding that will insure that the current high standards of safety and efficiency will be maintained in the Westport Fire Department.”

Yost was promoted to lieutenant in 2006,  assistant chief in 2009, and added training officer duties in 2011.

Marpe said Kepchar, 64, who has served as deputy chief since 2012, will focus on supporting Yost in the transition to his new responsibilities.

WestportNow.com Image
Robert Kepchar: will advise after retirement. Dave Matlow / WN file photo

After his official retirement, he will remain in an advisory capacity until September “to insure a smooth, seamless and professional transition within the department,” he said.

“Bob Kepchar is the embodiment of the leadership, spirit and experience of our Westport firefighters,” Marpe said.

“His ability to anticipate problems and opportunities, and to act on that anticipation, has made a real difference in the quality of the Westport Fire Department. 

“Moreover, Bob’s calm demeanor and genuine sense of humor made an important difference to all his responsibilities, whether in emergency preparation and response or administrative support. We will miss Bob’s knowledge and steady hand and appreciate his willingness to assist in the upcoming leadership transition.”

 

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Posted 12/21/16 at 05:18 PM  Permalink



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