Three members of the Brigantine Fire Department were sworn in to new positions before a capacity crowd at the start of the City Council meeting Wednesday evening, May 17.
Acting Fire Chief Tige Platt accepted the official role as head of the department, Paul Fuller was promoted to captain, and Michael Lange Jr. was promoted to lieutenant. All three grew up in Brigantine. Mayor Phil Guenther administered the oath of office.
Holding the Bible for Platt while he took the oath was his father, retired Brigantine Fire Chief Darryl Platt. Also by his side were retired Brigantine Fire Chiefs Stan Cwiklinski and Alan Weidner, and Bill Loder, head of the department Platt served under when he enlisted in the New Jersey Air National Guard after graduating from Atlantic City High School in 1991.
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Also accompanying Platt were his wife, Jennifer; their two children; and Alice Holl, mother of Brigantine Fire Chief James Holl, who died in June 2013.
In the audience was former Brigantine mayor and state Assemblyman Ed Kline, who conducted the 1986 swearing-in ceremony for Darryl Platt, who was a 28-year member of the Brigantine Fire Department and served as chief for 11 years.
Tige "Tiger" Platt is the youngest of four children, the others being Todd, Troy and Tina. He enlisted in the Air National Guard as a crash rescue firefighter and was assigned to the 177th Fighter Wing at Atlantic City International Airport. In 1994 he transferred to the U.S. Air Force Reserve at McGuire Air Force Base and became trained as a flight medic.
He joined the Brigantine Fire Department in 1997 and became a member of its blackwater diving team. After 9/11 he was deployed numerous times to the Middle East in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. He received six medals of valor.
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"I'm extremely proud to be leading this department, taking it to the next level, and following in my father's footsteps," Platt said, adding that it was the guidance of many mentors that allowed him to rise through the ranks. “You don't get to this position alone. You get there standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Fuller and his brother and sister, Greg and Colleen, moved to Brigantine with their parents as children from Downingtown, Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Sarah, have three children. Fuller has two undergraduate degrees, including one in fire science from Columbia Southern University.
Lange has been a Brigantine resident for 49 of his 51 years, and joined the Brigantine Fire Department in 2000. He is a 1984 graduate of Holy Spirit High School and has been active in the community all his adult life, including having co-established the Men's Evening Golf Association at the Brigantine Golf Links. He and his wife, Sheila, have two children.
Guenther praised the educational preparation, leadership ability and community involvement all three men have displayed over the years.
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“They are all products of our community, and we are so proud of them,” he said. “They've all attended our schools, many of us have seen them grow up, and we know the values they have and the values that their families have instilled in them.
“We know the incredible job they do and they're going to continue to do in leading this department, which I believe is one of the finest fire departments anywhere,” added the mayor. “They work every day serving our residents with professionalism, confidence and compassion, and will continue to do so under the leadership of Chief Platt.”