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Peluso, Jr. Named Newport Fire Chief

Frank Peluso, Jr. was named chief of the Newport fire department at Monday night's city commission meeting.

Peluso, Jr. is the son of City Commissioner Frank Peluso, Sr. and second-cousin of City Commissioner and former mayor Jerry Peluso. Both recused themselves from the vote.

He is a veteran of the fire department, rising to the rank of captain during his twenty-year career.

The Newport native replaces Chief Bill Darrin, who is retiring.

"I am excited, humbled and optimistic about being named fire chief of a department that I love in a city that I love," Chief Peluso said. "This is a city and a department rich in history, and I look forward to continuing the legacy of success, professionalism and service to the community that the Newport Fire Department is known for. 

"What makes a fire department great is the people, and the people in this department care deeply about the community," he said. "I'm honored to have been chosen to lead this department and the great people who serve the citizens of Newport." 

Newport Mayor Thomas Guidugli, Jr. congratulated the new chief.

“Chief Peluso will bring energy, enthusiasm and passion to his new role,” the mayor said. “Newport has evolving needs and Chief Peluso has a plan for improvement in several areas, including training and analysis of community needs."  

"After conducting a very thorough selection process, I am confident that Chief Peluso will do an excellent job in leading the Newport Fire Department," said Newport City Manager Tom Fromme. "I look forward to working with him as a part of our City administration." 

The Newport Fire Department operates two stations. The main station is downtown at 10th and Monmouth streets, and a smaller station is on Main Street in south Newport. The department operates around the clock with 12 personnel staffing three shifts every 24 hours and averages about 5,000 runs a year. 

Chief Peluso said as a young man growing up in Newport, he originally wanted a career as motorcycle police officer. But after graduating from Newport Central Catholic in 1997, he witnessed a tragic incident that convinced him a career in the fire service was the right path to take. 

"I happened to be in the firehouse when one of my aunts died of a massive heart attack," Chief Peluso sad. "It was a terrible and tragic thing to happen, but I felt like I was there for a reason and that I wanted to be able to help people. 

"From that moment on," he said, "I knew that I wanted to be a Newport fireman." 

Chief Peluso said recruiting new personnel to the fire department and enhancing the department's community involvement are among his early priorities.  

"Recruiting is an issue everywhere," Chief Peluso said. "Newport is a great place to work, and I intend to work hard at getting that message out so we can attract some new firefighters. 

"We are also going to be more visible and out in the community," he said. "Most people see a firefighter on their worst day. We want to get out there, talk to people, tell and show them what we do and make the city even prouder of the fire department." 

-Staff report