He Won’t Put Out This Fire

He Won’t Put Out This Fire

by Paul Bass | November 10, 2008 1:53 PM

Pictures, video & comments: New Haven Independent: He Won't Put Out This Fire

Minutes after he and 29 other recruits received their firefighting badges, Robert Bonetti hopped on top of the Squad 2 pumper — and asked his flame for her hand in marriage.

Jamie Sirella, standing below amid the swarm of graduates and well-wishers, looked up and said yes.

Bonetti’s unscheduled proposal capped an hour of speeches, bagpiping, hugs, military pageantry, and certificates for 30 men Monday at the 54th graduating class ceremony for the New Haven Fire Academy.

Twenty-eight of the firefighters, who made it through five months of training, will serve in the New Haven department. Two others will serve in the West Shore and Milford departments. Mayor John DeStefano told the graduates that the class almost never took place because of city budget cuts. “Before the fiscal year is out, we’ll lay off moreemployees who are doing a good job,” he said.

For Robert Bonetti, the event at the academy on Ella Grasso Boulevard marked two milestones: approvals to become a firefighter and a husband. Click on the play arrow to watch him propose.

Bonetti and fiancee Sirella have been going out a year and a half. They both live in Stratford; they’re both 26, with February birthdays a day apart. (She’s older.)

“I would have married him,” Sirella said, “even if he wasn’t a firefighter.”

Bonetti studied computers in college, got an office job. And he got antsy. “I can’t sit in a cubicle. I’ve always want to get my hands dirty” and help people, he said. Becoming a firefighter was “always a passion in the back of mind.” So he made the leap, the first firefighter in a family filled with cops.

James Sorrentino’s father was a cop, retired Capt. James Sorrentino. Monday the younger James became a firefighter, too.

As did Kendall Richardson, 23. He’s wanted to become a firefighter since visiting firehouses while a student at Katherine Brennan School. “I liked the truck,” he said. Not to mention the poles, the uniforms, the whole deal.

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