Letter: Dedication kicks off celebration of Huntington Fire Co.’s 100th birthday

To the Editor:

The city of Shelton has always been protected from fire and other disasters by its brave volunteer firefighters who come from all walks of life, many of whom are following their relatives into the fire service some three to four generations deep. There are four fire companies in Shelton with a compliment of 246 firefighters who race to the aid of its citizens without question 24/7, 365. These volunteers train and practice just as paid fire personnel do to be there in our time of need. On Sunday, Aug. 18, the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Huntington Fire Co. #3 began with the dedication of their newly constructed memorial brick garden just across from the Shelton Community Center in front of the fire house.

The ceremony was attended by over 200 people, mostly older fire fighters, relatives and survivors of firefighters and auxiliary members. The Huntington Fire Co. #3 firefighters led by Capt. Donald Zak were decked in their dress uniforms standing proudly at attention throughout the ceremony. The other three fire companies, White Hills, Echo Hose, and Pine Rock Park had great presence and also came dressed to honor their fellow firefighter and Huntington Fire Co. #3. Some of those in attendance were quite elderly and when MC Robert Araujo, former fire commissioner and Huntington Fire Co. #3 member, began the ceremony asking everyone to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance you could see them move slowly and with some pain to stand and place their hands over their hearts. They stood as straight, tall and steady as they could with the crowd and loudly and proudly recited our national pledge. In my mind they immediately put many young spoiled NFL millionaire players to shame.

Araujo also introduced and thanked the veterans of Sheltons' own American Legion Post #16 veterans who assisted in the ceremony and reminded everyone that our freedom comes with a price and our present day soldiers and veterans are the persons who have and continue to provide that freedom to our nation. He also graciously thanked those persons, companies, and the city departments who contributed, funds, labor, equipment and materials to prepare and finish the site for today's festivities.

Many celebrities have come through Shelton to support clubs and causes but none so humbly and more important than the retired NYC firefighter who was on hand for the ceremony this morning. Lt. Charles McCarthy, FDNY Ladder Co. 31 Retired is a true hero and was present in the audience. Standing an easy 6'2" he was introduced and lauded by Araujo for being one of the most highly decorated NYC firefighters, having received the NYC Firefighter Heroism Award and many other accolade while being an inspiration to many who have become firefighters. Per Araujo, McCarthy assisted in the writing of manuals and procedures that are still used today to train fire personnel. McCarthy also has a wonderful connection to Shelton as the proud father of Noreen McGorty our 4th ward alderman who is the Chairperson of the Health and Safety Committee. And Noreen's husband, Ben McGorty, who is a member of Huntington Fire Co. #3 and serves Shelton and several other communities as the duly elected state representative from the 122nd District in Hartford.

As the bag piper began to play under very cloudy skies some were afraid rain would ruin the ceremony. It was very clear to see that a higher power had another plan in mind or someones grandmother hung rosary beads on the clothes line that morning because just as the US flag and those of the state of Connecticut and the Fire Co. #3 flag were hoisted we were bathed in sunshine! It made everyone smile even more. And no fire house celebration would be complete without food and beverage back at the fire house. At least five incredible 6-foot deli sandwiches were ready and waiting along with chips, assorted beverages and home made coffee cake for dessert which were all very much appreciated by those who attended.

Just like any other group or organization those who serve behind the lines should be recognized. I was very fortunate to meet Barbara Theodore whose husband, Paul Theodore, was a past captain of Huntington Fire Co. #3. She along with other auxiliary staff decorated the fire house for all the holidays and especially a large Christmas tree each year. I am sure it delighted the children of the firefighters, those who past by the fire house and it was a welcome site when the firefighters returned from freezing cold winter emergency runs. Thank you to each and everyone of you for your support of our firefighters.

The Shelton Fire Department is always looking for persons who want to be firefighters or to volunteer in other capacities. You can reach the SFD at cityofshelton.org or call directly to the firehouse in your district.

Beginning on Friday, Sept. 13, through Sunday, Sept 15, the Huntington Fire Co. #3 will host "The 136th Annual CT Fire Convention" with more than 30 cities participating. On Sunday super fire apparatus parade will start at noon on the Huntington Green and end at Bic Corp. for food and drink. You can get more details on their web site at www.huntingtonfireco3.com and can support the new memorial brick garden by designing and purchasing a brick for the newly dedicated memorial brick garden. Each fire company is an entity in their own right under the SFD and I personally support and suggest you support your local fire company with a donation each year to say thank you for their services. Those donations can be used for items not covered under city budgets, grants or other donations they receive to continue their missions to protect Shelton and its citizens.

Huntington Fire Co. #3 personnel and their spouses also assisted in the hosting of the "Run for the Warriors" at 5:30p Sunday to support the men and women in the US military service.

Thank you and God bless all of our Shelton firefighters and first responders. You give up precious time with your families and put yourselves in harms way to rescue people, pets and property and we truly appreciate your sacrifice and dedication. May you always return safe and unharmed from each emergency call.

Anthony Simonetti

Alderman, 1st Ward