Westport Fire Chief Robert Yost gives briefing late last summer as a member of the management team fighting a wildfire in Minnesota. / Contributed photo

WESTPORT — Fire Chief Robert Yost will retire Jan. 1 after 34 years with the town’s Fire Department, and will be succeeded in the top firefighting post by Deputy Chief Michael Kronick.

The changes in the top ranks of the Fire Department were announced Thursday afternoon by First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker.

Yost, who joined the department in 1988, has been chief since 2017 and also serves as the town’s emergency management director.

Yost praised for “exemplary, dedicated service”

Tooker, in her statement announcing Yost’s retirement, cited his “longstanding, exemplary and dedicated service” to Westport.

“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,” Tooker said.

In his emergency management role, Yost helped the town weather “some particularly devastating storms and tense situations,” the first selectwoman said. “In addition, his attention to FEMA reimbursement regulations and opportunities has enabled many Westporters to receive federal financial assistance in repairing/replacing their storm damaged properties.”

Fire Chief Robert Yost addressing a town meeting in 2021. / Photo by Thane Grauel

Yost: “An honor” to serve Westport

Yost, in the retirement statement said, “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 co-workers in the state.

“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,” he added.

Kronick expected to “seamlessly” assume chief’s job

Deputy Fire Chief Michael Kronick / Contributed photo

In promoting Kronick as chief and the new leader of the town’s emergency management team, Tooker said, “Mike has the proven ability and expertise to seamlessly and effectively take over the role as chief.

“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,” Tooker added.

Kronick, who joined the Westport Fire Department in 1998, has been deputy chief since 2017.

Looking back on Yost’s three decades of service

Yost, after becoming the Fire Department’s first emergency medical service instructor, became a paramedic in 1995. 

In 2006, he was promoted to lieutenant, and was the department’s leader of the joint Fire and Police Dive Rescue Team. In 2009, he was promoted to assistant chief, and in 2011, was promoted to assistant chief training officer. 

Yost has a family background in firefighting. His father served as chief in Norwalk for two decades, and a photo of his grandfather, also a firefighter, sitting atop a Norwalk firetruck adorns his desk.

During his career with Westport Fire Department, Yost received three Edmund Duffy Unit Citations, a John Gallagher Award for an Unusual Act of Valor and a Certificate of Exemplary Police Action.  

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

Deputy Fire Chief Michael Kronick was deployed last August to help battle recent western wildfires. / Contributed photo

Kronick a Westport firefighter since 2009

Kronick became a lieutenant with the Fire Department in 2009, and was promoted to deputy chief in October 2017. 

He has been awarded the Edmund Duffy Unit Citation, the Chief Shippey and the Argenio awards for service to the department. 

Kronick 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 in the West.