The South Fire District began back in 1915 as the Russell Fire Brigade, which was responsible for the protection of the Russell Manufacturing Company. The sole purpose at that time was only for plant protection of the company.
In 1930 it was decided to form a Protective Association that would be supported by voluntary donations of the community. The Association would cover all 25 square miles of the "South Farms" area. The Department at that time consisted of 50 volunteer firefighters. These volunteers canvassed the community for donations and in 1935 the first new pumper was purchased, followed by the second new pumper in 1940.
By 1950, the Association had a total of three pumpers. The housing of apparatus was becoming a problem because additional space was needed by 1956. In 1957 the Protective Association voted to form a Special Taxing District for the purposes of fire protection. The Connecticut Legislature approved the Special Act creating the District and the referendum vote by the electors of the District passed by a margin of 707 to 113. A one-mill tax was levied and produced $27,000. At that time, a paid Fire Chief was retained. Chief Michael P. Milardo was the first career Chief in the Department's history.
The Russell Company had an available building across the street from the existing Fire Station. The building was quit claimed to the South District Protective Association on September 18, 1957 for a cost of ten dollars.
In 1960 and 1962, new pumpers were purchased and the population of the District was expanding.
Revenue for 1965 produced just over $60,000 per year and the Commission appointed William J. Gallitto as Assistant Chief and Sebastian DiMauro as a fireman.
Seeing the need for further expansion, the Commission purchased land on the corner of Randolph Road and Lee Street for a new Fire Station, which is the site of the present building.
Three additional firefighters were hired in March of 1969 to supplement the small career staff and volunteers. Total staffing was 6 career and 45 volunteers at that time.
On May 18 1969, the South Fire District had its building dedication at the current site of the Fire Station on Randolph Road. (View the Program, PDF) For a short time, one pumper remained at the East Main Street Station and all other equipment was housed at the new Headquarters building.
By August of 1970, the District had received its first Aerial Ladder, which remained in service until 1996. In 1970, the total Department budget was $139,500, which included a $45,000 mortgage payment for the new station. The station building cost of approximately $300,000 was paid off in less than ten years. The East Main Street Station was sold in 1971 for $15,000.
By 1973, total career staffing was 9 members with an operating budget of $226,000. The volunteer firefighters continued to serve the District with a constant 40 - 50 member force.
In 1974, tragedy struck the Department when Chief Michael P. Milardo passed away suddenly. Assistant Chief William J. Gallitto was appointed as the new Fire Chief, and Sebastian DiMauro was promoted to Fire Captain.
In 1979, the District hired four firefighters to increase on duty manpower to two career firefighters per shift. Daytime personnel total was 8, night personnel consisted of 2 career firefighters, and a part-time paid call man. The part time paid call man system utilized volunteer firefighters from the hours of 6 PM to 6 AM seven days a week, and during the day on Saturday and Sunday. This system was used for over twenty five years. Most of the paid call men were hired as career firefighters.
In 1984 with two career firefighters and a call man on nights and weekends, the District opted to promote 3 Lieutenants and place the current Lieutenant on a rotating shift for supervisory purposes. Department staffing in 1985 was a total of 15 career supplemented by about twenty part-time firefighters.
Chief William J. Gallitto retired in 1987 after serving 22 career years. The District promoted Captain Sebastian G. DiMauro to Fire Chief. Replacing Captain DiMauro was Lt. Steven J. Krol. Soon after, the position of Deputy Chief was reestablished and Captain Krol was promoted to Deputy Chief in 1988.
In 1995, with only five call men remaining, and increased federal regulations on training, the program was disbanded.
Also in 1995, a reorganization of the Department took place. The Fire Chief had always served as the District's Fire Marshal. In January of 1995, with Fire Marshal responsibilities and activities on the rise, the District assigned Deputy Chief Steven Krol as the Fire Marshal for the District. Deputy Chief Krol's primary function today is as the District's Fire Marshal. He is solely responsible for fire code enforcement, fire investigation, hazardous material and life safety/fire code issues for the District.
In August of 1995, a second Deputy Chief's position was created to assist the Fire Chief in Department operations. Lt. Wayne S. Bartolotta was promoted to Deputy Chief of Operations.
In 1996, the District added a part-time Deputy Fire Marshal to the staff to assist the Fire Marshal with code enforcement issues, along with the hiring of four firefighters to bring on duty staffing to one Lieutenant and four firefighters per shift.
In 1997, after 32 years of career service, Chief Sebastian G. DiMauro announced his retirement and Deputy Chief Wayne S. Bartolotta was promoted to Fire Chief. Chief Bartolotta was the fourth career chief to serve the District since 1957.
For two years, the Deputy Chief of Operations position went unfilled. With increasing demands for firefighter training and administrative duties, the District filled the position after a nationwide search was performed. The District hired David Christoff, a 22-year veteran of the Waterbury Fire Department, to the position. Christoff retired as a Deputy Chief from the Waterbury Fire Department and is a certified fire instructor. The majority of Deputy Chief Christoff's duties were in the area of training and administrative duties.
Deputy Chief Christoff remained on the force for three years before accepting a position with the Connecticut Fire Academy in Windsor Locks as a Fire Service Instructor. The District eliminated the Deputy Chief of Operations position and reclassified the position as Training Officer. That position was filled by Edward Badamo in January of 2005. Badamo, who was a firefighter/paramedic and engine driver for 10 years at the East Hartford Fire Department, also trained medics for American Medical Response.
In September of 2003, the District hired five firefighters to increase on duty manpower to five fighters and one Lieutenant, bringing the department's authorized strength to 29. This also provided a Lieutenant and firefighter assigned to the day shift that runs Monday through Friday.
When Chief Bartolotta retired in June of 2005 to become director of the Middletown's 911 emergency communications center, Deputy Chief / Fire Marshal Steven Krol assumed the position of acting Chief.
On December 20 2005, Robert J. Ross was sworn in as Chief of the South Fire District. Ross is 22-year veteran of the Middletown Fire Department, where he served as Chief from 1999 to 2004.
In April of 2006, the position of Deputy Chief of Operations was reinstated, and Training Officer Edward Badamo was promoted to fill that position.
After 23 months of service, Chief Robert Ross left the District in November of 2007 to become Director of Fire, Emergency and Building Services for the State of Connecticut. Fire Marshal Steven Krol assumed the position of temporary Chief until May 2008, when Deputy Chief of Operations Edward Badamo was sworn-in as Fire Chief, and held that position until September 2012. Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal Steven Krol assumed the position of Acting Chief until June 2013 at which time Robert Ross was sworn back in as Fire Chief, after six years as Division Director of the State Department of Public Safety and most recently State Fire Marshal.