Incoming Fire Chief James R. Peplau has more than 25 years of experience in fire services, including extensive work with the Waterbury, Connecticut Fire Department where he currently serves as a battalion chief.
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NEW CHIEF HIRED FOR MIDDLETOWN FIRE
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (JUNE 21, 2021) – The Town of Middletown has a new permanent fire chief.
On Monday night, the Town Council unanimously appointed James R. Peplau as the new fire chief following an executive session discussion from Town Hall.
Peplau takes over from Interim Chief Kevin P. Partridge, who served for a couple weeks after Interim Chief Robert McCall asked to return to his role prior to the COVID-19 outbreak as battalion chief.
Town officials welcomed Peplau, saying he’s a consensus builder who has extensive experience with fire services, including more than 25 years with the Waterbury Fire Department in Connecticut. Most recently, Peplau has served as battalion chief since 2011 for the 235 member Waterbury department.
A specific date for Peplau to start his new position was not set Monday night, but he was expected to begin in coming weeks.
“Chief Peplau certainly checked all the boxes for us,” Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown said. “He’s a proven leader who has thrived in a much larger department who wants to make a mark here in Middletown and on behalf of the Town, I want to welcome him aboard.”
At the same time, Brown thanked Partridge and McCall for their hard work on behalf of Middletown Fire – and the community as a whole.
“Chief Partridge has done an excellent job filling in for us and continuing to more the department forward,” Brown said. “And as I’ve said before, I think we all know we owe Chief McCall a debt of gratitude for his work through COVID-19. He helped pull the department together during an extremely difficult time and elevated Middletown Fire at a time when there was so much uncertainty due to the pandemic.”
According to his online profile, Peplau describes himself as an accomplished project manager who has secured close to $19 million in grant funding for fire service and safety projects.
Peplau’s resume also said he has extensive experience in virtually every aspect of firefighting, from prevention, energy steering, training to fire inspection, hazardous materials, paramedics and rescue, among others. Peplau was named the 2017 Waterbury Firefighter of the Year.
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. and a Master of Business Administration from Boston University.
Brown said Peplau comes to Middletown Fire at a good time, with the hiring of eight new firefighters using federal funding aimed at improving fire service. The department also has a new building, state-of-the-art equipment and an experienced, veteran leadership group that’s ready to roll at a moment’s notice.
“Middletown Fire is a proud department, always has been,” Brown said. “If you look back at our chiefs, each one has brought something different to the table and has always moved Middletown Fire in the right direction, leading an extremely talented group of firefighters to serve our community.”