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Scott Martus has been North Haven’s deputy fire chief of operations since 2017. (Photo by Elizbeth Reinhart/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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Scott Martus’ passion for firefighting is infectious.
As North Haven’s deputy fire chief of operations since 2017, Scott has shared his vast knowledge and enthusiasm with countless members of the department and town.
The result – a solidly built, well-trained staff of approximately 35 career and 50 volunteer firefighters.
Part of his success as an educator and trainer is modifying his instruction techniques to advance skills in new areas.
“We always try to adapt to ever-changing dangers,” says Scott.
These dangers have changed from what is commonly referred to as ‘duck and cover’ defense against nuclear explosion in the 1950s and ‘60s to “dealing with an active shooter, hostile events,” he adds.
Scott takes a key part in developing drills for a rescue task force that equips firefighters to deal with these types of situations and incorporates using ballistic armor and helmets.
The overall program, which is held to the National Fire Protection Association 3000 standard – “it’s a different philosophy than we are used to,” says Scott.
An evolution since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Scott admits it’s a different approach to “staging and waiting until police arrive,” he says. “It’s designed to get treatment to victims faster.”
A collaboration with the North Haven Police Department, both departments plan to have completed four training sessions with the new armor by next summer, with a goal of training annually with the police department.
Ballistic armor isn’t the only new technology that firefighters gained experience with this year, thanks to Scott.
The department’s drone program, which necessitates training for a drone operator and visual observer, has helped with two successful rescue missions. They include a lost kayaker in the Quinnipiac River and a lost hiker at Peter’s Rock.
A fourth firefighting apparatus will also join the department’s fleet in 2020.
“It reduces response times,” says Scott. “It’s an important asset for us.”
Scott will take the lead on incorporating the vehicle into an existing operational system from 1967.
He is also working with the regional coordinator for the state’s Hazardous Materials Response Team, to restore a more localized response to chemical and hazardous material spills.
“This is really huge because of the cost to the taxpayer,” says Scott. “If we restore the regional team, it helps absorb upkeep from the taxpayer.”
Mindful of costs, like any good budget manager, Scott and his team are dedicated to helping residents lower their insurance rates by ensuring that the their International Organization for Standardization (ISO) fire protection class rating is one of the best.
Although it is a lot of “record keeping,” as Scott describes, “we are always looking for safe and effective ways to run the department.”
Scott is currently researching software that would help fire fighters more effectively log their training hours.
Another initiative that he is involved with is helping the town take over the emergency medical dispatch system. This service is currently contracted out and would give Scott and his team the ability to “communicate directly with a patient in real time with no delay,” he says.
“It doesn’t save money, but in this instance, the positives of people using the system, makes it worth it,” adds Scott.
In addition to his training and educational responsibilities at the fire house, Scott brings his teaching skills to the University of New Haven as an adjunct professor and lecturer at Gateway Community College and Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Although the topics of his classes vary from new firefighting skills at Gateway to regulatory systems at the University of New Haven, one constant is the enjoyment he gets from interacting with students, young and old.
“The younger students have a lot of enthusiasm for it,” says Scott.
He enjoys coaching the younger crowd as they start their careers and comparing fire departments with some of the students with more experience.
“I always learn something in every class from students, especially older students,” says Scott. “They have so much life experience.”
Growing up in a family of firefighters, with his father volunteering at the West Ridge Volunteer Association, Scott knew early on in his career that this field was for him.
One of his first jobs after high school was working at the Hospital of St. Raphael’s as an emergency room technician. He worked as a paramedic and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for American Medical Response in New Haven and was a volunteer firefighter with the town of Cheshire.
In 2003, he spent six months in Westport as a firefighter and EMT and then “I got the job offer here and I came home,” he says.
He credits his wife, Melissa, who he describes as “an incredible woman,” with enabling his success.
Together, they have three daughters, one of whom is “following in my footsteps” and earning her paramedic license, he says.
Another component to his success is the collegial nature of North Haven town departments and officials, which starts at the top.
He says of the first selectman, “Mr. Freda supports us. He is a brilliant guy.”
“I’m lucky to work for this town and with the men and women of this fire department,” he adds.
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