‘As Meaningful a Volunteer Opportunity As I Could Imagine’: New Canaan Fire Company No. 1 Calls for New Members

One of New Canaan’s most vital and widely recognized community organizations is putting out a call for new members. 

In recent years, a handful of firefighters with the New Canaan Fire Company No. 1 have been hired on as full-time paid members of the New Canaan Fire Department—a testament to the strong relationship between the two entities, though it’s left the volunteer fire service short of its target numbers, officials say. Those who have joined the New Canaan Fire Company in recent years say it offers truly meaningful involvement in the community as well as fun, camaraderie and education. 

Firefighter Steven Kryger joined in November 2020 and has been able to serve as an active volunteer with the organization though he has a full-time job. “Virtually all of our members are full-time students or have full-time jobs—it’s very doable,” Kryger told NewCanaanite.com. “We kind of make it so members of the community can be huge contributors and it fits in with their lives.”

The Fire Company holds drills and meetings on Thursday nights, and there’s an additional one day of training per month (on Tuesdays) during a probationary period for the first year while volunteers are becoming certified as licensed and trained firefighters. 

“Calls can come in any time,” Kryger said.

‘The Best Dad Any Kid Could Ever Ask For’: Family, Friends Gather To Remember Steve Benko

Lindsay Gardner talked to her dad, Steve Benko, for the last time just a few days before he passed away. 

The two sat in his hospital room, unsure of what to say, Gardner recalled Thursday. “So I asked him, I said, ‘Dad, what do you want us to do?’ We didn’t know what to do. Who knows what to do? This isn’t something we’re groomed for,” Gardner told hundreds of congregants gathered at First Presbyterian Church of New Canaan for Benko’s memorial service, and hundreds more watching a livestream online. “What he told me was, he just wants all of us to go out and be happy.

‘Tireless Caring, Devotion and Love’: Friends Remember Steve Benko; Town Renames Waveny Pool in His Honor

Bea Watkins got to know Steve Benko at New Canaan High School in the late-1960s, and for the last 11 years has worked for him as office manager of the town’s Recreation Department. There at the Rec offices in Waveny House, they often reminisced about mutual friends, parties and weddings, as well as Watkins’s brother, Lem, who’d worked for Benko one summer years ago. “I have always been in awe of Steve’s work ethic and proud to be on his team,” Watkins told NewCanaanite.com in an email when asked for her thoughts on Benko. “He always took such pride in everything he and our crew has had to accomplish for the residents in terms of activities, programs, and facilities. With the recent influx of new residents who continue to voice how astonished they are with all that the Recreation Department and the town has to offer, I know that it is largely due to the hard work and effort of Steve.”

Calling Benko “Mr. New Canaan,” Watkins remembered her friend as singularly passionate about the town and what it offers. “I always enjoyed sharing thoughts and ideas with Steve and a good argument was exciting as well,” she said.

‘A Day of Profound Sadness’: Town Officials Report Passing of Steve Benko

Steve Benko, a lifelong New Canaan resident known to local families through five decades as head of the town Recreation Department, died overnight, officials said Saturday. A former chief of New Canaan Fire Co.,#1, he died “after a very courageous, but mercifully short, battle with cancer,” the organization’s president, Rob Mallozzi, said in an email to Fire Company members. “His family was by his side.”

“It is a day of profound sadness to our Fire Department and Company and our entire town,” Mallozzi said. “Please keep the Benko family in your prayers.”

First Selectman Kevin Moynihan issued this statement Saturday: “New Canaan lost one of its most dedicated and long-serving Town employees Friday night when Steve Benko passed away at Stamford Hospital surrounded by his family after a short battle with cancer. Steve served 50 years as Recreation Director of the Town of New Canaan and was a mentor and friend to generations of youth, Town employees, Fire Co.