By Michelle Ford, KVFC Member.
In 2022, the 57 active members of the Killingworth Volunteer Fire Company (KVFC) volunteered thousands of hours of their time serving the community.
In total, members responded to 461 incidents (an 8% increase from 2022) including:
- 42 Fires (structures, vehicles, brush/vegetation)
- 225 Medical
- 48 Motor vehicle accidents
- 12 Hazardous material concerns
- 8 Mutual Aid Responses
- 37 Smoke and/or carbon monoxide incidents
- 19 Electrical (wiring problems, downed powerlines)
- 40 False Alarms (detector malfunction, accidental activation, etc.)
- 30 Miscellaneous (animal rescue, severe weather, public service assistance, good intent, etc.)
This year’s top responders: Graig Judge (262 calls), Kevin Dougherty (193 calls), Ralph Knockwood (182 calls), Fred Dudek (149 calls), and Ben Chasse (140 calls), went above-and-beyond to demonstrate their dedication to the KVFC and the people of Killingworth. In addition to the time committed to emergency response, KVFC members collectively dedicated over 3,000 hours to training, inspecting and maintaining the equipment and facilities. “There is a general misconception that, as a volunteer department, we are held to a different standard than a career department but I think it’s important for people to know that we are held to the same standard for education and training which, when you think about it, is a significant impact on our members, most of whom are also managing full-time jobs and families at home,” said KVFC Chief Rick Darin. “It’s important to me that people are aware of just how dedicated and passionate our members are to serving the people of Killingworth.”
The KVFC elected a new Chief, 45-year member and Executive Director of the Valley Shore Regional 9-1-1 Center, Rick Darin, who had previously served for 17 years as Senior Trustee of the KVFC Board of Trustees. The Company also welcomed two new members: Julio Lopes and Anthony Gentile, a former fire chief and police officer from New York. The Company bid farewell to 16-year member and well-known, local electrician Dave Hudson, who relocated south with his family. The KVFC mourned the loss of former member Mark Lagasse and former junior member Eric Cholewinski. Former Chief, Alan Chapman celebrated 65 years with the Department. Other service anniversaries include Donald Lagasse (45 years), Ray DesJardins (40 years), Todd Hajek (40 years), Arnold Moore (35 years), Paul Schilling (30 years), Jeremy Adametz (25 years), Mike Walton (25 years), Blake Knockwood (20 years), Donnie Venuti (15 years), and Cliff Goodale (10 years).
In 2022 the KVFC was challenged by supply chain shortages and delays that postponed delivery of a new light rescue/brush truck. According to Chief Darin, “We continue to manage these challenges by working very closely with our vendors and looking at alternate suppliers to minimize the impact of these shortages on the Department.” In addition, the heavy rescue truck (8-9) went out for a chassis replacement and also according to Darin, “Since the existing body that carries rescue equipment and firefighters was still in great shape, we decided to reuse it and save the Town funds. This way we only needed to buy a new powertrain and chassis.” In 8-9’s absence, the KVFC is utilizing other apparatus supplemented with additional equipment and relying on our mutual aid partners to provide assistance as needed.
Looking ahead, the KVFC will continue to focus on training, call response, and recruiting new members as well as on firefighting water supply and technology improvements. Given the absence of fire hydrants, water supply on-scene is a top priority and can be challenging. “A major focus of 2023 will be on water supply/water resources and we are developing an enhanced inspection and documentation protocol for the Department,” stated Chief Darin. Regarding the technology improvements, he stated, “We are integrating new software and higher-tech equipment into our operations to streamline administrative processes but also to help ensure compliance with OSHA mandates.” On the long-range capital plan, discussions have begun to evaluate potential replacement of the 50-year-old fire station to look at future needs and to address the fact that both stations are undersized and do not meet many of the current NFPA public safety standards.
The KVFC engaged with the public by participating in Haddam’s Memorial Day parade, hosting the annual Santa cruise, serving food at the Parmelee Farm Artisan Market, taking part in several events at KES, celebrating their 75th anniversary, and honoring second-grade girl scout Troop 62311 for their generous contribution to community helpers. At the annual banquet, the KVFC honored Past Chief Bill Wright for a lifetime of dedication to the training of KVFC members including the expansion of the training facility and advancement of our training program. “No single person in the history of KVFC has done more to support and advance the training and education of KVFC firefighters” said Past Chief Donnie Venuti.
In cooperation with Killingworth Ambulance Association (KAA), the KVFC successfully advocated for an update to the pension plan that has remained unchanged since 1989 and wishes to thank the Board of Selectmen and townspeople for their support. In addition, the KVFC is thankful for our residents and businesses for their overwhelming response to the December 2022 annual mailing and to the Board of Fire Commissioners, Board of Selectman, Board of Finance, and all agencies that support the organization throughout the year.
Chief Darin would like to remind readers that it is an immense responsibility to operate the KVFC 24/7 for us to be ready for your call for help. If you can help, there are openings for both first responders as well as those interested in non-traditional roles as administrative support and serving as fire-police (on-scene traffic control). Any residents interested in serving are encouraged to contact the department by email at FireChief@TownofKillingworth.com.
Fire Safety PRIORITY Reminder: Please remember to clearly display your house numbers on your house and/or at the end of your driveway so that first responders can quickly and easily identify your property in the event of an emergency. According to the Town of Killingworth’s General Legislation, Chapter 404 §404-2, all residential, commercial or industrial buildings shall have the street number affixed to the building. The numbers shall be at least three inches in height and contrast in color to the building. If the building is more than 50’ from the road, the street number must also be affixed to both sides of the mailbox, post or fence, so that the property can be clearly identified.
Photos courtesy of KVFC members