CHATHAM — At the end of next month, when Fire Chief Peter Connick retires after more than four decades of service in town, Deputy Chief Dave DePasquale will take over leadership of the department. Taking DePasquale’s desk as deputy will be Lieutenant Justin Tavano, a 16-year veteran firefighter.
Town Manager Jill Goldsmith recently announced Tavano as her choice for the department’s number two position. Connick said Tavano was among three internal candidates for the position, interviewed by DePasquale, Goldsmith, Human Resources Director Jillian Douglass and William Bogdanovich of Broad Reach Health Care. While he said he’s not part of the process, Connick said he’s happy that Tavano will be the next deputy chief.
“I think it’s a great choice,” he said.
Part of what made Tavano an attractive candidate is his ease with financial figures, Connick said. “He’s the spreadsheet guy.” Tavano has a degree in economics and worked for State Street Bank for a year before having second thoughts about his career choice.
“The financial world just didn’t seem quite as rewarding to me as a profession as what I’m engaged in now,” Tavano said. Raised around the corner from Harwich Fire Chief Norman Clarke, Jr., Tavano “grew up watching him run out the door to go on calls,” and consulted Clarke as a mentor. “He kind of encouraged me to pursue this” as a career, Tavano said. Because Harwich didn’t have part-time firefighters at the time, Clarke referred Tavano to Chief William Schwerdtfeger of Chatham, who arranged to have him sent to the fire academy.
Tavano started as a call member of the Chatham Fire Department in 2004 and was hired full-time in 2006. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2016, and enjoys helping organize the annual toy drive and the April Fools’ Swim.
“The best part of the job for me is just being able to interact with the public,” Tavano said. As deputy chief, he’ll no longer be responding to as many calls, but he’ll still be able to interact with business leaders, department heads and his peers. In addition to responding to larger incidents, he’ll be focused on planning and finance, as well as ensuring that department members have the resources and equipment they need to do their jobs safely.
He’ll also be working regular business hours rather than traditional shifts, which will be a big change.
“It’s bittersweet. We do enjoy our time at the station, the family environment, but it will be great to be at home at night with my family,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll start to develop some regular sleeping patterns.”