Westport Fire Chief Robert Yost retiring after decades of service

Photo of Katrina Koerting

WESTPORT — Fire Chief Robert Yost is retiring after 34 years with the town.

First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker announced Thursday that she accepted Yost’s retirement letter, effective Jan. 1. He will be replaced by Deputy Chief Michael Kronick.

“It has been an honor to serve the town of Westport for the last 34 years, and a privilege to work with the finest firefighters and coworkers in the state,” Yost said. “I look forward to enjoying a new chapter in my life and I will always hold the Westport Fire Department near and dear to my heart.”

Yost, who lives in Milford with his wife Tina, started his career in 1986 as a part-time firefighter for the Mansfield Volunteer Fire Co. while attending the University of Connecticut. He eventually took a full-time position there after briefly working for Xerox. He became a Westport firefighter soon after in 1988.

He served as Westport’s first emergency medical service instructor before becoming a paramedic in 1995. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2006 and was the fire department leader of the joint Fire and Police Dive Rescue Team.

Yost was promoted to assistant chief in 2009 before being named assistant chief training officer in 2011. He was appointed to the position of fire chief and emergency management director in February 2017.

“The town of Westport and its residents have been very fortunate to be the beneficiaries of Rob’s expertise and dedication throughout his 34 years,” Tooker said. “As fire chief, Rob has assured that our firefighters are appropriately recruited, trained, and equipped to serve in their roles of preventing and fighting fires and providing rescue services.”

She added that his attention to Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement regulations and opportunities has helped many residents get federal assistance to repair or replace their storm-damaged properties.

“As the emergency management director, Rob has been on the front lines in protecting all our residents,” Tooker said. “On Rob’s watch, Westport has weathered some particularly devastating storms and tense situations.”

Yost comes from a family of firefighters, and keeps a family photo on his desk of his grandfather, who was a Norwalk firefighter, sitting atop a firetruck. Yost’s father served as fire chief in Norwalk for two decades.

Yost has received numerous accolades during his career in Westport, including three Edmund Duffy Unit Citations, a John Gallagher Award for an Unusual Act of Valor, and a Certificate of Exemplary Police Action.

He is also a member of the National Ski Patrol, the Connecticut Interstate Wildfire Crew, and the Connecticut West Incident Management Team.

“On behalf of the residents of Westport, his fellow employees, and his firefighting colleagues, I am grateful for Rob’s longstanding, exemplary and dedicated service,” Tooker said. “I wish him all the best in his retirement.”

She added that the department and town will remain in capable hands.

Kronick joined the Westport Fire Department in 1998 and was promoted to lieutenant in 2009. He became deputy chief in 2017.

He also serves on the Connecticut Incident Management Team and was instrumental in forming the Fairfield County Strike Team and Task Force system. He is a member of the Connecticut Interstate Fire Crew and has been on several national wildfire deployments out west.

Kronick graduated from Fairfield High School in 1991 and has a bachelor’s of science from the University of Connecticut and a masters in fire science from the University of New Haven. He lives in Stratford with his fiancé Beth and his two sons, 2-year-old Sullivan and 3-week-old Anderson.

He’s received the Edmund Duffy Unit Citation, the Chief Shippey and the Argenio awards for service to the department.

“Mike has the proven ability and expertise to seamlessly and effectively take over the role as chief,” Tooker said. “Like Chief Yost, Mike has a breadth of knowledge, skill and understanding that will ensure that the current high standards of safety and efficiency will be maintained in the Westport Fire Department.”