As his predecessor looked on, Denis McCarthy was sworn in as the town’s new fire chief last week, shortly after attending an emergency management meeting convened in case Hurricane Joaquin made landfall in town.

“I can’t imagine what the Fairfield Fire Department was like in 1959,” McCarthy said, a reference to the year now-retired Chief Richard Felner started serving with the town’s Fire Department, “but I know what the Fairfield Fire Department is today, and it’s because of his efforts, Chief (Boone) Gardner’s efforts, Chief (David) Russell’s efforts.”

The 59-year-old McCarthy, until last week the chief in Norwalk, is a Fairfield resident and had praise for Felner, who he called a friend. “I don’t know anyone in my professional career who has worked so long in public safety,” said McCarthy, who previously also was the fire chief in Westport.

He was given a five-year contract with a salary of $142,000 as chief.

The low-key ceremony was held on the apparatus floor at fire headquarters on Reef Road. The trucks were moved out in the driveway, and their places taken by a gathering of Fairfield firefighters and leaders from other area departments.

It is the apparatus floor, McCarthy said, that is the heart of the Fire Department.

“I’m honored and humbled to be here,” McCarthy said, and praised the firefighters who work each day to keep the town and its residents safe. And it is his obligation, he said, to make sure those firefighters go home to their families at the end of their shift.

In addition to issuing the oath to McCarthy, Deputy Fire Chief Kyran Dunn was formally given his new badge, and two firefighters, Eric McKeon and Joseph Galla, were promoted to lieutenant.