The Seymour / Yost Era

Chief Eugene Seymour

When Chief Mangels retired in 1974, he was replaced by Deputy Chief Eugene Seymour. Chief Seymour was the first Fire Department chief to rise from the rank of paid firefighter. He had first worked as a call fireman in 1938 and was appointed as a regular on April 1, 1943.

Norwalk has always been home to a fleet of oyster boats, which are equipped with large water pumps. Chief Seymour worked with the oyster men to set up training so that, in the event of a major fire on the waterfront, firefighters could use the water supplied by the boat's pumps to augment their water supply.

1970s Truck Technology

In the 1970s, the department bought four more American LaFrance pumpers as well as a 100-foot, rear-mount American LaFrance aerial ladder. The 1970 pumper was the first pumper with a diesel motor and the first with a roof since the 1938 Mack. The 1973 pumper was the first with an automatic transmission.

Also in the 1970s, Mayor William Collins issued a decree stating that all new city vehicles would be white. The 1979 pumper was the first fire apparatus in this new color scheme. The vehicle was also the last the department purchased from American LaFrance.

Chief John Yost

When Chief Seymour retired in 1979, Deputy Chief John Yost was named as his replacement. Like Seymour, Yost had risen through the ranks of the department after being appointed in 1958. Chief Yost brought the department into the era of large diameter hoses, hazardous materials, and automatic mutual aid agreements.

Education & Rescue

Yost, who had an MPA from New York University, was a great believer in higher education for his firefighters. He encouraged them to take fire science classes at the Norwalk State Technical College. He also assigned firefighters to the department's rescue truck on a full-time basis. Previously, firefighters from an engine company at Central Station manned the rescue when it was needed for motor vehicle accidents. Under Yost's command, Rescue No. 2 was manned constantly and responded to all structure fires, hazardous materials calls, and accidents. The first manned rescue vehicle was a small, 1980 Saulsbury squad-type vehicle, which replaced the Gerstenslager.

Changes to the Fleet

Read about more changes in the Fire Department, including upgrades to the fleet and the promotion of a new chief.