Maybe it is the sound of blaring sirens or the clanging of alarm bells that drives his passion. But John Pugni, district chief of the Cos Cob Volunteer Fire Company, never imagined as a high school student that he would be where he is today. But some would say that job is in his blood.
The job has stayed in the family. It began with his grandfather and is now with Pugni, who is starting his 23rd year as a firefighter. His father, who was a career firefighter in Greenwich, introduced him to the job. "I made my way up the ranks from second lieutenant to chief," Pugni says.
Pugni took on the role of chief eight months ago, after becoming assistant chief in 2009. "The young firefighters [with the Cos Cob company] needed leadership, so I stepped up to the plate," he said.
Every volunteer firefighters commitment is 24/7. Each one carries a pager at all times. "It is part of our life. If the bells goes off at 3 a.m. ... when they have to go to work the next day."
But he said that nothing is more rewarding than helping the community. "You get to meet a lot of people in town. You also get a lot of thank yous. It's important that we're there for the community and that we're still strong."
Pugni also has a full-time job working for the town's parking services. He has two children; one is a 14-year-old boy who is working his way through the Fire Explorer program that introduces young adults to fire services.
Pugni acknowledges that the noise in the station excites the firefighters. "There is something about [being a firefighter]. It gets your adrenaline going. It will take a lot for me to stop."
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