Just minutes after he had been confirmed as Rhode Island’s new State Fire Marshall during a Senate and Advice and Consent Hearing, Warwick resident Timothy P. McLaughlin was walking to his car with Mayor Joseph Polisena when he suddenly stopped and declared, “This is bittersweet for me; I’ve had seven great years in Johnston!”
McLaughlin, who was nominated to the prestigious post by Gov. Gina Raimondo on Jan. 29, wasn’t talking about a driving rain that greeted Polisena and himself as they were leaving the State House. He was speaking about all the “good times and opportunity to work for Mayor Polisena and with the great men and women of the Johnston Fire Department. I’m going to miss every one of those people. I’m not an ‘I’ guy; those people made me look good.”
McLaughlin, who succeeds former Warwick Fire Chief Jack Chartier in the Fire Marshal’s chair beginning this Monday, Feb. 19 and continuing through Aug. 1, 2023, said, “I’m humbled to be appointed (State Fire Marshall) by Gov. Raimondo.”
During last Wednesday’s Senate Hearing, several speakers – most notably Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush who remembers McLaughlin from his days with the Pawtucket Fire Department – testified saying: “I have all the confidence in the world that Tim will do an outstanding job in this important position.”
James G. McLaughlin, Tim’s friend and Warwick Fire Chief, echoed those sentiments saying: “He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the State Fire Marshals office. He is and will continue to be a great leader.”
To which Chief Richard A. Susi, retired executive director of the RI Association of Fire Chiefs who also attended last Wednesday’s hearing, added: “Tim McLaughlin brings years of experience in leadership and fire fighting to the post.”
Sen. Frank A. Ciccone, III, chairman of the Senate Committee on Housing and Municipal Government who led last Wednesday’s hearing, simply wished McLaughlin well saying: “We are getting a man with 35 years experience to lead the State Fire Marshal’s office.”
Polisena, who stood in front of the Senate Advice and Consent hearing board, began: “I come before you today with a heavy heart and mixed emotions. But, I am very proud of my fire chief Tim McLaughlin and while I know I will be losing a great fire chief, the state will be getting a great fire marshal.”
Polisena went on, “I am very proud that Gov. Raimondo has picked Chief McLaughlin to be the top fire fighter of our state. I hired him seven years ago when the fire department and my administration were going through some turbulent times. In less than a year, Tim single-handily got things under control and because of his no-nonsense ways and years of experience in Pawtucket, the JFD and EMS System became a role model for other departments.”
The Mayor’s address to the Senate Committee was also filled with a strong sense of pride, especially when he said: “Through Tim’s style of management he has turned around my fire department and through his leadership and management style he has given us the depart that is admired by many. We now have the most highly rained EMS and Firefighters in the state because of Tim’s leadership.”
McLaughlin, though, worked and developed a reputation and is armed with 35 years of progressively responsible experience in the public service arena. He has strong qualifications in budgeting, personnel affairs, training, resource management, public safety and even enforcement while also having skills in areas such as staff development and leadership to labor negotiations as well as legislative affairs.
That’s just a few of the reasons why Polisena closed out his testimony at last Wednesday’s hearing saying: “So, I ask that without reservation you enthusiastically vote today to move his advance and consent to the full Senate floor.”
The committee was unanimous – as was the full Senate last Thursday – and as Polisena said, “All of us in Johnston, including the men and women of the JFD will miss Chief McLaughlin’s leadership but we are extremely proud that the Governor has picked him for the state fire marshal’s position.”
Likewise, McLaughlin toasted Polisena, his chief of staff Doug Jeffrey and Finance Director Joseph Chiodo as well as every member of “the fantastic men and women of the Johnston Fire Department. Let me also tell you that Local 1950 is the best union in the state and the same holds true for Keith Calci, he’s the best union president in this state.”
McLaughlin served in numerous capacities during his storied career with the Pawtucket Fire Department that began in 1982 and wound up in 2010 when he left to assume the chief’s role in Johnston.
“Tim is steeped in a myriad of fire fighting areas,” said Polisena. “He wore many hats with the PFD before becoming chief in 2004 and continuing until 2010 and in 2011 he began serving the Johnston Fire Department with dignity, respect and honor that will take to his new post as Rhode Island State Fire Marshal.”
Tim McLaughlin is now officially Rhode Island State Fire Marshal, a position that comes under the Department of Public Safety, which is led by Col. Ann Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.
He is a graduate of Roger Williams University with a Bachelor of Science and Public Administration degree. He landed membership to the Rho Alpha Honors Society and graduated cum laude. He has professional certifications in 18 important areas and professional affiliations with 11 fire chief’s organizations.
Perhaps being elected president of the RI Association of Fire Chiefs speaks volumes about the respect and popularity he has developed among with peers.
“As I said, leaving Johnston is bittersweet for me,” McLaughlin, who lives in Warwick with his wonderful wife Heather, reiterated. “But this was the opportunity of a lifetime; it was something I didn’t feel I could pass up.”
That’s why Polisena stated, “I, along with the men and women of the Johnston Fire Department will miss his leadership and so will the citizens of our town. We wish him well and we thank him for the great service he brought to town and made the JFD the best in all of Rhode Island.”