WATERBURY – When Ed Costa says he spends most days putting out fires, he means that both figuratively and literally. As the manager of All-Star Transportation’s Waterbury location, it’s his job to resolve issues that erupt on a daily basis. And as the deputy fire chief for the Town of Wolcott, he’s frequently called upon to battle real-life fires.
“My background in emergency services helps me stay calm when there are challenging things going on,” says Costa, who manages a staff of more than 100 employees and deals with a daily challenges, such as changes to bus routes to provide door-to-door service for the special need students that Waterbury serves.
“We re-route buses every day. The constant change is routine,” he says.
Costa’s training in emergency services began during his senior year at Wolcott High School. He worked as a volunteer for an ambulance service, then took a course to become a certified emergency medical technician (EMT). After high school, he became a paramedic and worked 25 years for the City of New Britain. When he left that job in 2006, he was the city’s deputy chief for Emergency Medical Services.
“There are not a lot of people who have stayed in EMS that long and not bowed out,” he says. “I had enough of working weekends, nights and holidays.”
His next stop was at The Next Street, where he worked as an instructor for nine years before joining All-Star as the Waterbury location manager in October 2015. As a manager, he says one of his key concerns is keeping everyone safe. He says the training he received as a paramedic and the accidents he covered give him a deep appreciation for following procedures, and he’s a stickler about safety.
“I push safety and training every day. I understand the need for being safe after all the things I have seen over the years,” he says.
Costa’s focus on keeping people safe doesn’t end when he walks out of the door at night. After work he switches hats and takes up his responsibilities at Wolcott Volunteer Fire Department Company 1. He joined Company 1 in 1980, right after graduating from high school. He served as a volunteer firefighter, EMT and paramedic, becoming a lieutenant and captain before being named deputy chief in 2013. Costa and his wife of 32 years, Karen, have two sons, and both sons also are members of Company 1.
In April, Costa’s service to his community was recognized when he was named Wolcott’s Firefighter of the Year. He and other top firefighters from Connecticut will be celebrated in October when the Connecticut District Exchange Club hosts a special statewide dinner.
Costa notes that his achievements as a firefighter would not have been possible without the support of his family. He says they put up with him missing many family events to attend a fire or emergency, and he recalled leaving his family’s New Year’s Eve party earlier this year to respond to a major fire in Waterbury.
“Families are a big part of anyone involved in emergency services. It takes a commitment by an individual, but also by the family,” Costa says.