Camillo honored at Cos Cob Fire Police Patrol benefit

John Ferris Robben State Rep. Fred Camillo (R-151st), at right, was presented with the first “chief’s award” by Cos Cob Fire Police Patrol Chief Brian Kelly at the fund-raiser.

State Rep. Fred Camillo (R-151st), at right, was presented with the first “chief’s award” by Cos Cob Fire Police Patrol Chief Brian Kelly at the fund-raiser.          —John Ferris Robben

When he heard that the Cos Cob Fire Police Patrol wanted to hand him an award, state Rep. Fred Camillo (R-151st) said he was surprised.

“It is the furthest thing from your mind. It is such a surprise,” Mr. Camillo said. “It is extra special when it is from an organization that you hold in such high esteem.”

The longtime supporter of the patrol received the first-ever Chief’s Award from the Cos Cob Fire Police Patrol at Greenwich Country Day School on Saturday, April 5. Mr. Camillo’s district includes Cos Cob and he’s been a resident there for years, with deep ties to the community, including to the patrol, which is an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization that was created to aid first responders in multiple ways, including firefighting, salvage operations and providing traffic and scene control at emergencies.

“It’s special to me to be even associated with an organization that does so much good for our whole community,” he said. “They truly help people who need help the most.”

While Mr. Camillo said it was a surprise, senior members of the fire patrol said it was an easy decision to choose him as the first recipient. Joseph Kaliko, a fire patrol board member, praised Mr. Camillo for his work on two pieces of legislation that he said provided valuable protections for the Fire Police Patrol and other emergency workers throughout the state.

The most recent, House Bill 6033, An Act Concerning Motor Vehicle Insurance Providers and Distracted Driving, became law on Oct. 1. The section that Mr. Camillo was heavily involved with was the 54th of the 59 sections of the bill. It made it a criminal infraction to disobey a fire police officer directing traffic.

“If you disobey a fireman it is a misdemeanor, if you disobey a police officer it is a problem. A fire police officer, there was really nothing on the books, and Fred changed that,” Mr. Kaliko said.

He also praised Mr. Camillo, who is an associate member of the patrol, for his work three years ago on another piece of legislation that requires towns to cover volunteer first responders to be indemnified in the same manner as professional police and firefighters.

But it wasn’t just Mr. Kaliko who had kind words to share. There was praise for Mr. Camillo, a prominent Republican, from another Greenwich resident, who just so happens to be one of the most influential Democrats in the state.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), attended the event, too, and didn’t come empty-handed as he announced that Mr. Camillo was being awarded with a bipartisan merit award from the U.S. Senate.

“There’s an old saying that there’s no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit,” Mr. Blumenthal said as he praised Mr. Camillo for his hard work.

“He shows up at things without a lot of fanfare and he really epitomizes that attitude of doing good and not caring who gets the credit. Fred, I am so grateful for all you do and for your friendship,” Mr. Blumenthal said, before vowing to introduce federal legislation in the Senate similar to what Mr. Camillo did on a state level. “This community, and tonight is really about community, shares my gratitude and admiration for you.”

An official proclamation from Gov. Dannel Malloy lauding Mr. Camillo was also presented at the event. Mr. Malloy wasn’t there to deliver it, but in a statement he praised Mr. Camillo for his commitment to the state and to the fire police and fire department communities, saying he applauded his accomplishments and wished him continued success in his work.

“Your leadership in passing the fire police bill in the Connecticut General Assembly, giving fire police officers the authority to safely direct traffic and giving volunteer firefighters and medical personnel the protection they deserve, is laudable,” Mr. Malloy said to Mr. Camillo in the proclamation. “Your enthusiasm and dedication are an inspiration to us all.”

At the event, Mr. Camillo spoke about the nerve-wracking experience in getting the bills he worked on passed by the legislature. He said the 2011 act passed with only 26 seconds to spare before the legislature ended its session, killing any bills that didn’t meet the deadline.

Mr. Camillo pointed to the experience of fire patrol member Christian Anderson, who suffered injuries two years ago when he was dragged by a vehicle for about 20 yards after the motorist refused Anderson’s orders to turn around, as an impetus for him to back the bill.

Joining Mr. Camillo at the event were his fellow Republican members of the Greenwich delegation in Hartford, state Sen. L. Scott Frantz (R-36th) and state Reps. Livvy Floren (R-149th) and Stephen Walko (R-150th). They were also joined by state Rep. David Scribner ( R-107th), a friend of Mr. Camillo, who co-sponsored House Bill 6303.

Other than honoring Mr. Camillo, the event acted as a fund-raiser for the fire patrol, with dinner, dancing and both live and silent auctions. According to Mr. Kaliko, the organization’s operating budget is about $30,000 per year for such expenditures as insurance and truck maintenance. He stressed that as one of the few nationwide organizations remaining specializing in salvage work, the patrol has to train its members to protect valuable personal property that could otherwise be destroyed due to fire, water or smoke damage.

The patrol serves the entire town of Greenwich and last year responded to more than 1,000 emergency calls. Mr. Kaliko said they hope the event will not only act to support the operating budget but also leave some aside for capital expenditures, including a truck that the patrol believes will be needed in the next few years.

Mr. Kaliko told the Post he was very happy with the event, estimating that 175 to 200 people attended. He didn’t get into specifics, except to say supporters were “very generous” and that the patrol would be holding the event again next year.

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