For the four or five years that Brookfield Fire Capts. Nick Cresanto and Mike Hagood worked the same shifts, Cresanto had one goal: to get to the truck bay first when a call came in.
“I think there was maybe one time I got down here before him (Hagood) and there was a malfunction with the radio,” Cresanto said. “Out of all those times, he always beat me down here to the apparatus bay and always had stuff started, ready to go, out the door. Time was of the essence with him for sure.”
Cresanto said he’s not sure whether Hagood’s secret was technical – maybe listening to the police channel because they tend to get the calls first – or maybe he simply had a sixth sense, intuition or ESP.
“I didn’t understand how he could be so fast,” Cresanto said. “The guy definitely lived, ate and breathed this service.”
Hagood worked his last shift with Brookfield Fire in April, completing 41 years as a trainee, volunteer or full-time firefighter and paramedic. His career path is filled with awards for his heroism and his service.
Hagood is a legendary figure among Trumbull County fire departments. The son of a Vienna firefighter, Hagood wanted to join a fire service as a teenager, but Vienna had a policy that a firefighter had to be 21, and he didn’t want to wait that long.
“He come over and befriended the (Brookfield) fire chief, who was Nick Bartolin at the time,” Brookfield Trustee Dan Suttles said of the 16-year-old Hagood.
Brookfield had just hired its first full-time firefighters, so the station was always staffed.
Bartolin “allowed Mike to bring a bunk in, and he slept every night at the fire station so he could go on fires, and then he would go home in the morning and go to school,” said Suttles, a retired firefighter who started with Brookfield the same time as Hagood.
Hagood became known as “Trumbull County Mike” because he would respond to any fire call in the county.
“There’s been rumors that he slept with an earpiece in his ear from the radio, but I don’t know if there was any truth to that,” Cresanto said.
Suttles verified the story, and said Hagood started using the earpiece so he could hear calls in bed without disturbing his wife.
“I can say by far there’s not anyone even close of being as dedicated as this guy is,” Suttles said, noting Hagood plans to stay on as assistant fire chief in Vienna.
promoEvery shift with Hagood was a learning experience, said Cresanto, who started with Brookfield in 2006.
“The man was just a well of knowledge and experience,” he said. “The medical side, he definitely knew what he was doing, but the fire side, he shined through. Definitely an aggressive fireman. He knew how to get the job done. Fast water – as fast as possible. He was lightning quick.”
As demands changed on firefighters, Hagood never missed a beat, Cresanto said.
“Definitely times have changed with technology,” Cresanto said. “He adapted, figured it out and moved forward.”
With Hagood’s retirement, the entire command structure of the department has turned over since Chief Keith Barrett died on Feb. 1, 2019, and the department’s moving forward relies on a new generation of firefighters.
Since then, David Masirovits was hired as chief, Capts. David Coffy and Matt Gordon retired, and Cresanto and Steve Smoot were promoted to captain, Smoot stepping from firefighter to lieutenant to captain in six months.
“I rapidly went from kind of the low man on the totem pole to now the senior guy,” said Cresanto, who was promoted from lieutenant to captain when Smoot was named a lieutenant. “I feel that there is a weight on my shoulders to carry, but I carry it proudly. A lot of the younger members and the newer members that we have here are looking up to the senior staff, which is me and Smoot. Everything we do reflects Brookfield Fire and how we operate and every shift I want to make sure that that is hammered home. A lot of the guys before me, Hagood, Coffey, they laid down a strong foundation. I definitely want to carry that foundation on to the future.”