He was a long-time member of the Bristol Fire Department, but Louis J. “Chi Chi” Cirillo was well-known to generations of fire fighters in Warren, too. News of his passing late Sunday night hit Warren Fire Chief Al Galinelli particularly hard.
“We had a lot of laughs, a lot of laughs,” the chief said Monday morning. “We went way back, back to the 60s.”
Back in the old days, fire fighters from each town would often come out to lend a hand and observe at fires in the other community. Chief Galinelli said Chi Chi was always there, and was a hell of a guy. Funny, hard-working and generous.
“He was a funny guy too,” he said.
One story stands out: Bristol fire crews were fighting a blaze at the corner of Metacom Avenue and Annawamscutt Drive well after midnight and Mr. Cirillo, a pump operator, was set up at the corner of Chestnut Street. Galinelli went over to visit his friend and when he got there, Chi Chi pulled him aside.
“Hey, do me a favor,” he says. “I left my glasses at home and I can’t see what I’m doing. Am I giving them (fire fighters) enough flow?
“I said, ‘Sure, you’re doing fine,’” Chief Galinelli recalled. “But how did you drive here without your glasses?”
“Oh, I can see fine, I just can’t see the numbers,” he said.
Over his years of volunteerism, Chi Chi saw plenty of numbers, many fires, and made lots of friends. Members of the Cirillo family are meeting at Sansone Funeral Home in Bristol today to go over arrangements, and a date for services has not yet been set.
When the time comes, Chief Galinelli said he’ll be there, and he’ll offer Bristol any help it needs as department members pay their respects to their friend.
“If they need an engine to cover the town for the services, we’ll provide that,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of people paying their respects to him. Great guy.”