Harp announces pick for New Haven fire chief

John Alston (left) was introduced as New Haven's new Fire Chief, Thursday, September 29, 2016 (WTNH /Renee Chmiel)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Big changes are coming to the New Haven Fire Department. Mayor Toni Harp announced her pick for the new fire chief at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Harp has chosen John Alston. He’s coming to the Elm City from Jersey City, N.J., where he has worked for the past 35 years.

Harp says he has what New Haven needs in a fire chief, and that he has a wide range of experience and knowledge that he brings to the job. Alston has expertise in firefighting tactics, homeland security and dealing with hazardous materials. He’s also served in consulting and emergency management roles.

The city’s former fire chief, Allyn Wright, retired last January. Wright, who is from New Haven, had been chief for about a year and a half. Matt Marcarelli has served as Acting Chief during the search.

The city started the process of looking for his replacement in January. Alston says he’s looking forward to starting his position in New Haven.

“My goals are first to do a thorough assessment and that usually takes about 15 to 18 months, surveying the public’s perception of the fire department but also looking at goals and performance standards,” said Alston.

The city’s Board of Alders is expected to approve Alston as the new chief tonight. He’s expected to start in the next few weeks.

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