BELMAR, NJ —A New Year’s Day tradition continued this morning as three veteran firefighters officially assumed their leadership positions at the Belmar Fire Department.

Moving up the chain of command and taking the oath of office from Mayor Mark Walsifer on January 1 were:

■  Joseph Rizzitello Sr. of Volunteer Hook and Ladder Fire Co., who was elevated from first assistant chief to department chief.

Sign Up for Belmar/Lake Como Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

■  George Burr of Union Fire Co., who became first assistant chief, after serving as second assistant chief.

■  Jason Downing of Goodwill Hose Co., who assumed the post of second assistant chief. He had served as captain of that fire station.

All three men were elected during the department’s annual elections held in December.

Volunteer Hook and Ladder Fire Co. on 11th Avenue hosted this year’s event, which was attended by Belmar volunteer firefighters from all three firehouses, as well as family members, friends and elected officials from both Belmar and Lake Como.

In addition to Mayor Walsifer, Belmar Council President Thomas Brennan, and Councilmen James McCracken and Thomas Carvelli, as well as Lake Como Council President Douglas Witte, were on hand.

Besides becoming chief, Rizzitello had another reason to celebrate. “I’m a grandfather,” he proudly told the gathering in his remarks after the swearing-in. While grandson Joseph Ryan Rizzitello, who was born on Christmas Eve, may be a bit too young right now, Rizzitello has already picked out a pedal-powered fire engine ready for that day.

The new year also brings new line officers at each firehouse:

Goodwill Hose Co.: Tyler Pringle, captain; Sean Pringle, first lieutenant; and Mario Gargiulo, second lieutenant.

Union Fire Co.: Stephen Hines, captain; Victor Lorusso, first lieutenant; and Dominick Lorusso, second lieutenant.

Volunteer Hook and Ladder Co.: Steven Hudson, captain; James Yannazzone; first lieutenant; and Bob Pollock, second lieutenant.

TAPinto Belmar/Lake Como is Belmar and Lake Como’s only free daily newspaper. Accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, it is a locally owned news organization serving the community. Our advertisers enable us to publish local online news at no charge. Sign up for our free daily e-News, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Download the free TAPinto App!  Click here for Android - Click here for iOS to get news as it is happening.