The Day – Decorated New London firefighter promoted to battalion chief

New London — Jonathan D. Paige is the city’s newest battalion chief after a promotion ceremony Wednesday at City Hall.

Paige, who lives in the city, was appointed to the department in 1996 and became a lieutenant in 2008. He also served for eight years as the firefighters union vice president and oversaw improvements to the pension system as the pension chairman. Other roles he’s filled in the department include head of its Safety Committee for 14 years, during which he helped start programs for cancer awareness and injured firefighters, as well as serving on an apparatus and equipment purchasing committee and the board of directors for the department’s Burn Foundation. Additionally, he helped launch the New London Firefighters Pipes and Drums, on which he serves as president and pipe major.

During the ceremony, he was recognized as one of the most decorated firefighters in the department’s history. Among his achievements that Chief Thomas Curcio cited was a March 1997 fire in which Paige and firefighter Knute Malinowsky entered a burning home, located an unconscious man and passed him out a window. Flames trapped both firefighters inside a room, prompting Paige to dive head-first out the second-floor window and slide down a ladder to safety. He received the Commendation of Valor, the department’s highest award, as well as the Connecticut State Fireman’s Association Medal of Merit, and the VFW and Elks Club firefighter of the year awards, for his actions during that blaze.

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Among other honors, Paige in 2000 received a Commendation of Merit for rescuing a trapped occupant during a structure fire using a thermal imager, the first recorded successful use of such a device in the state, Curcio said. And in February 2018, he was recognized again with a Commendation of Merit for reaching over a wall at the Mohican Hotel Apartments and pulling a suicidal woman off a roof ledge to safety.

Paige, who has an associate degree in fire technology and administration from Three Rivers Community College and several state and national certifications, will undergo training and then take over command of Group 1. He replaces Battalion Chief Roger Tompkins, who retired this month. Before joining the New London department, Paige was a Department of Defense firefighter at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Fire Department, Curcio said.

David Paige pinned the new badge onto his son’s uniform during the ceremony Wednesday.

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