Lieutenant Ken Boudreau places a flag on the grave
of Honorary Life Member William "Billy" Derlycia.
Each year across our Nation, the fire service losses many of
its bravest in the line of duty. Many others who have shared
this bond of brotherhood also leave us, whether it is because of
an accident or illness, or just that their time has finally
come. We honor these individuals, their dedication, the
commitment they made to protect the lives and property of
complete strangers, and the sacrifice that some make in doing
Each year on the Sunday before Memorial Day, the Simsbury
Volunteer Fire Company visits the grave of each of our Honorary
and Honorary Life Members. The Fire Company places a flag in
their honor, a short biography is read aloud, and the assembly
is called to attention and then to salute. On Memorial Day
during the parade down Hopmeadow Street through the center of town, the Fire Company
pauses at Main Station and places a wreath at the Frank Bradley
Memorial in memory and honor of our Members who have passed.
Here you will learn about some of the wonderful people who have
graced the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company and the Town of Simsbury with their service. We also pause to remember some of
the significant events from around the region that have had a
profound effect on us. This section is about Remembrance.
medallion placed on the grave of Donald "Red" Rust
in memory of his service.
We often place memorials as a way of honoring and remembering
significant events, the people who were affected by them, and
their importance to us. The fire service unfortunately has had
to dedicate more than its fair share of mementos. These
memorials take many forms and can be found in many places such
as a granite marker laid at the base of a flagpole, a bronze
plaque affixed to an apparatus bay wall, or simply a sticker
placed on the back of a worn helmet. In the overwhelming amount
of these occurrences, the remembrance was placed because someone
was willing to unselfishly put them self in harm's way so that
they may protect others.
Conceived as a tribute to America's fire service, the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial is one of this
country's most beautiful monuments to courage and unselfish
service. Constructed in 1981 on the campus of the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg,
Maryland, the Memorial was officially designated by Congress as
the national Memorial to career and volunteer fallen
firefighters in 1990. It is a symbol of honor for those who
carry on the tradition of service to their communities.
The highlight of the Memorial is a sculptured bronze Maltese
Cross. Throughout the centuries, the Maltese Cross has been adopted as a symbol by groups who
provide aid in times of distress. The cross rests atop a 7-foot
stone cairn, denoting its importance as a landmark monument. An
eternal flame burns at the base of the cairn, representing the
spirit of the firefighter—past, present, and future. A plaza in
the shape of a Maltese Cross surrounds the Memorial. Plaques
listing the names of firefighters killed in service to their
communities since 1981 encircle the plaza.
Each October, a National Memorial Service sponsored by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation is held at the
monument site to honor all firefighters who have died in the
line of duty during the previous year. The ceremony includes the
placing of a Presidential Wreath at the monument and dedication
of a plaque honoring those who died in the line of duty during
the previous year. Thousands attend the weekend activities held
at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The weekend
features special programs for survivors and coworkers along with
moving public ceremonies.
The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation provides
assistance to the survivors of fallen firefighters. Families
receive emotional assistance through a Fire Service Survivors
Network, which matches survivors with similar experiences and
circumstances. To help with
immediate and long-term financial concerns, the Foundation
assists survivors with finding information regarding benefits
available at the national level and in each state. The
Foundation's scholarship program can help survivors achieve
their educational goals.
Many states have also erected tributes to those who have given their lives in the line of
duty including Connecticut. The Connecticut memorial sits on the grounds of the Connecticut Fire Academy in Windsor Locks and was designed by the Connecticut Firefighters Association Memorial Committee. The plaza features a
brick patio in the form of a Maltese Cross complete with eight
granite "reflecting" benches representing the counties of Connecticut. The centerpiece of the memorial is a 6'x12' polished black
granite stone bearing the likeness of four firefighters fighting
a blaze complete with an eternal flame placed at its base. Lieutenant Paul Walsh of the New
Britain Fire Department completed the artist's rendering of the firefighters. Granite tablets
around the base of the memorial carry the inscribed names of all Connecticut firefighters killed in the line of duty.
The World was at war
in January 1944 when the Ensign-Bickford Company notified the
Town of Simsbury that they would no longer be able to provide
fire protection services to the Town because of the demands
placed upon them due to the War effort. In April of that same
year, seventeen draft-exempt men stepped forward to form what
would become the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company. Frank Bradley
was one of the original seventeen men who stepped forward. He
was also one of the twelve from the group who was selected to
attended training in "Firefighting Techniques".
Things began to
evolve quickly. To finance the new Company, the Simsbury Fire
District was created on June 5th, and the Company incorporated
on June 29th having grown to twenty-six members. On July 2nd,
the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company took possession of
Ensign-Bickford's 1935 American LaFrance pumper. The Simsbury
Volunteer Fire Company was now responsible for providing fire
protection to the Town of Simsbury.
The arrival of the
Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus was surely a
welcomed and anticipated event when it rolled into Hartford that
Summer. Approximately 8,000 people migrated into Hartford's
North End on the afternoon of July 6th to take in the matinee
performance. Frank Bradley, his wife and two young daughters
were in the audience that day.
Shortly into the
show, a small fire was spotted burning high on the sidewall of
the tent. Initially the audience remained calm as they expected
it to be extinguished quickly. Several employees rushed to douse
the flames but were driven back as the fire erupted across the
big top which was waterproofed with a mixture of gasoline and
paraffin wax. In a matter of seconds, a joyful tranquility
erupted into mass panic as the spectators stormed towards the
exits in all directions.
memorial was erected on the lawn of the Main Station in
memory of Frank Bradley and the others who have left
us behind. Until the completion of the new Main Station where a new memorial was erected.
In the ensuing
panic, Frank Bradley and his wife became separated from their
two daughters as the fire moved rapidly across the tent
consuming it. Frank Bradley and his wife entered the inferno to
search for their missing daughters. Both of their daughters
would escape the flames that day but tragically, neither of
their parents would re-emerge from the big top.
Bradley's names adorn the plaque of the Hartford
Circus Fire Memorial.
The ironies of the
tragedy speak for them self. Fire Company physician Dr. Owen Murphy took-in Frank Bradley's daughters and raised them in
their parent's absence. Frank Bradley tragically became the
first member of the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company to leave us
In September of 2010 The Simsbury Fire District opened its new Main Station. In the front of the Station The Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company and The Simsbury Fire District erected a new Frank Bradley Memorial. In the center of the walk way leading up to the main doors is the Frank Bradley Monument. Surrounding the monument engraved in the bricks are the names of The Fire Company’s Honorary Life Members who have passed away as well as Fire Company Members who passed away while still active. Directly in front of the monument is a place with the names of the Fire Company Members who gave the ultimate sacrifice and have died in the Line of Duty. Simsbury currently only has one LODD, Richard Kelleher who lost his life at the Knights of Columbus Fire.
| The Frank Bradley Memorial in front of the Main Station with a wreath on memorial Sunday.
It was a job as the Finance Director for the Town of Simsbury that brought Richard Kelleher and his family to town.
Known to his friends as Dick, he always had a special love for
the fire service. His father had been a Hartford City
firefighter retiring with the rank of Captain, and Dick had
always wanted to be one too. Richard Kelleher joined the
Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company on September 26, 1975 an was assigned to Bushy Hill Station. He was appointed to the
rank of Lieutenant in October 1981.
On the morning of November 6, 1981, a fire erupted at the Knights of Columbus Hall behind St. Mary's Church in Simsbury. The fire started in the garage and quickly extended
throughout the second floor. The fire was well underway when the
first units arrived on-scene. Approximately sixty-five
firefighters answered the call that morning, including Dick
Crews went to work to bring the fire under control. Roof
ventilation operations were ordered, and teams began to advance
hose lines by several different points of access. Dick Kelleher
was with a team on an exterior stairway helping to take a line
to the second floor when he collapsed. Lt. Richard Kelleher died
that morning of an apparent heart attack and sadly became the
Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company's first and only line of duty
death. He was thirty-seven years young.
Over 700 people, including 400 firefighters, gathered to mourn Dick Kelleher's passing. Lieutenant
Richard Kelleher was buried with honors and laid to rest in Fairview Cemetery in West Hartford, Connecticut. En route to the
cemetery, the funeral procession drove past the West Hartford
Fire Department Headquarters on Brace Road.
The West Hartford firefighters and apparatus turned out on the
apron as a sign of respect for their fallen brother.
Kelleher emcees the retirement dinner for dispatcher
George Zedlitz in October 1980.
Dick Kelleher left behind a wife Ann, a daughter Sharon, and
a son Ricky, who in later years went on to follow in his
father's footsteps, and become a firefighter in the Newington
Volunteer Fire Company in Newington, Connecticut.
marker in remembrance of Richard Kelleher adorned the
front lawn of the Main Station untill the Station replacement in 2010. It has been moved to its new home at The Firemens Clubhouse.
Next to Dick Kelleher's love for his family was his love for
the Fire Company, as he was always very active and involved. He
was known for his jokes, his smile, his enthusiasm and his
dedication to the fire service. As one long-standing member from
the Company put it, "Once you knew him, you never forgot him."
In honor of his service and his sacrifice, the Simsbury Volunteer
Fire Company founded the Lieutenant Richard Kelleher Memorial
Scholarship. Each year, the staff at Simsbury High School selects an applicant to receive the
scholarship. The scholarship is open to all Simsbury High School
graduating students and interested persons should inquire at the
guidance office for more information. In addition to the
scholarship, each year members of the Simsbury Fire District and Simsbury Volunteer
Fire Company, along with invited guests, gather for an awards
dinner to recognize milestones in service, and to acknowledge
members who have made outstanding individual contributions to
the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company. This dinner is named in
honor and memory of Lieutenant
Richard Kelleher who gave his life in the line of duty.