On Thursday, 25-year fire department veteran Joseph Conant was officially sworn in as fire commissioner in front of his wife and two daughters, as well as a packed room at Symphony Hall in Springfield.
"I'm relieved, but I'm also happy that it has come to fruition," Conant said.
Some had questioned Mayor Domenic Sarno's recommendation of Conant because he didn't have a bachelors or masters degree.
However, after months of debate, the City Council voted to change the requirements to having or pursuing a bachelor's degree, like Conant currently is.
Conant has been Sarno's pick for the job, particularly for his experience and leadership that he has shown outside of the classroom, which has included leading the fire department through the tornado and downtown gas explosion that deeply affected the city.
"Joe Conant stepped it up 110 percent through his unwavering command and leadership. This was really about a young man who really rose to the occasion and I am very confident that he and fire department will continue to provide outstanding service," Sarno said.
Now that Conant is officially the Springfield fire commissioner, he is ready to continue the work he has already started.
"We have some plans to improve our training ... increase our training to try to get more of our firefighters out on the scenes ... try to revamp our medical responses a little bit ... and the main thing is keeping our firefighters safe and our citizens safe," Conant said.
Under Conant's current contract with the fire department, he will be serving the city of Springfield for the next five years.
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