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Vin Mauro has been involved with Riverside Volunteer Fire Department for 39 years. He’s also served in town government. (Photo courtesy of Vin Mauro )
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For as long as he can remember, Vin Mauro has been interested in the fire department. He remembers perking up when he heard the sirens as a young child growing up in East Haven.
“When I was a kid, there was always a lot of brush fires around,” says Vin. “You’d hear the trucks go out and there was always a little bit of an excitement.”
Vin’s grade school friend, Kevin Kubula, lived near the Riverside Volunteer Fire Department and encouraged Vin to get involved. Kubula’s wasn’t the only familiar face there as Doug Jackson, who was a neighbor of Vin’s cousin, became a member as soon as he was of age.
Vin got involved in the Junior Fireman Program, which was led by Bud Inkster, and was encouraged to join by Jackson—though it was for a different reason than training to fight fires.
“They needed another bowler for their team,” says Vin. “I was working during the day and going to school at night, but I had that night free so I joined and I enjoyed that.”
Now Vin has been involved with the Riverside Volunteer Fire Department for 39 years. Jackson retired three years ago after 40 years of service, including seven years as a volunteer with Riverside Volunteer Fire Company 6, 33 years as a career firefighter, and more than a decade as chief.
“It went by fast,” says Vin. “I remember when I was one of the young guys around and now I’m getting to be one of the old guys. We want more young guys, but it’s tough because of the training you need.”
Vin notes that those interested in finding out more information should reach out to the Fire Headquarters at 203-468-3221.
Vin has not only seen the benefits of volunteering himself, but he has seen his two sons, Vincenzo and Anthony, get involved as well.
“It’s a sense of giving back to the community and helping people in their time of need,” Vin says. “My sons are social members, which means they help the company as much as they can but don’t respond to fires right now because they’re in college and don’t have time for the training.”
Both Vincenzo and Anthony were part of East Haven Fire Department’s Explorers program. They grew up seeing their dad volunteer and Vin recalls several times he had to leave a meal or a holiday dinner when a call came in.
His sons not only went through the Explorers program, but they remain involved at Riverside. Both have also chosen to study fields in public service with one studying fire science with a major in arson investigation and the other studying criminal justice.
“They enjoyed the Explorer program and there are some guys with the career department who keep asking when they’re getting back to be more involved,” says Vin. “It’s a way of giving back to the town with whatever is needed at that time and hoping they can make a difference.”
Vin is quick to point out that he is only one of many volunteers and staff that keep the fire departments in town running. In East Haven, there are four volunteer companies that support the East Haven Fire Department. While Vin had an opportunity to join as a career firefighter in 1987, he chose to continue his career as an elevator mechanic.
“I enjoy doing it as a volunteer, but I have all the respect in the world for the career firemen,” says Vin. “We’re there to back them up. It takes everybody.”
The career personnel return that respect.
“Immediately upon being appointed as chief of this great department I could see that Vinny was a leader,” Fire Chief Matthew Marcarelli says. “He brings with him a love of the town and a commitment to public safety. We are in a time where volunteerism is at an all time low and East Haven is no exception. Vinny has withstood the test of time. He is a lynchpin of the storied Riverside Fire Company and brings wealth of knowledge and experience to his company, the department, and the town.”
All of the departments work closely together and the volunteer houses are joined together by the East Haven Volunteer Fire Association. Vin has been involved with the group since 2000, serving as its treasurer. The association gives the volunteer companies an opportunity to come together to discuss issues, plan training, and organize social events.
Vin is also in his 17th term as captain of Riverside. As captain, he is in charge of response, helping to keep morale up, and ensuring the company is up-to-date on training. He works closely with P.J. Norwood, the town’s training officer. Vin also helps to maintain the firehouse. Riverside owns and maintains its own building and Vin serves on the Board of Trustees.
Even though Vin has always stayed busy at the firehouse, he has given his time to many other organizations over the years. In the 2000s, he served on the Town Council for six years. Since then, he has been on the Republican Town Committee, serving as vice chair for two year, and currently serving as district captain.
When his sons were young and attended St. Bernadette Catholic School, he helped coach flag football, baseball, and basketball. He was also active in St. Claire’s Church until it closed two years ago in a consolidation of parishes.
“It was heartbreaking because I was an usher there since I was 12 years old and it was where I was baptized, had my holy communion and confirmation, and got married,” says Vin, who has been married to Sue for 24 years. “My wife has always supported me. I couldn’t do it without her, especially the fire department because takes a lot of time.”
The only time Vin cut back on his volunteering was when he and Sue were taking care of his mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease. Vin is thankful to his wife for how well she cared for his mother during that time.
When Vin isn’t working or volunteering his time, he enjoys spending time with his family. Since he was seven years old, his family has had a cottage on a lake in East Haddam where he enjoys fishing with his sons and kayaking as a family.
Even though Vin has been with the fire department for nearly four decades, he still enjoys it just as much as when he first joined. He has met many people over the years and is impressed by the ways people give back to their community.
“I have a love for the company and hope it succeeds through these times—it’s something I enjoy doing and giving back to the town,” says Vin. “There are so many good people who give so much and do so much and you don’t realize what they’re doing because it’s not about the recognition. It’s about doing it because you want to do it.”
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