NEWINGTON ‚Äď Lifelong resident and volunteer firefighter for the last 47 years Walter ‚ÄúWally‚ÄĚ Brideaux will be staying out of the heat for good.
Brideaux retired from the Newington Volunteer Fire Department (NVFD) recently after more than 17,000 days of service with Company 2. The 68-year-old received gestures of gratitude from fellow firefighters over the last few weeks, along with town and state officials.
Co. 2 on Richard St. hosted a retirement party for Brideaux, during which State Rep. Gary Byron presented him a proclamation from the General Assembly. Newington Town Council also read him a proclamation at its last meeting, thanking him for his service.
Brideaux was sworn-in on June 13, 1971 at age 21. In 1990 he was promoted to Staff Lieutenant, then Captain of the Safety Division by former Chief Joe Kalasky.
He left the safety division in 1992 because of family obligations but continued to serve the department as a firefighter, providing wisdom to younger members who joined over the next 26 years.
The proclamation recapped Brideaux‚Äôs years of service and committment.
‚ÄúHe will always scan the fire radio, as the other veterans do, and want to go to the future ‚Äėbig ones‚Äô but will be just as happy, nice and warm inside his home when his company is out in zero degree weather‚ÄĚ it went on to say. ‚ÄúNow be it resolved, that the Town Council and Citizens of the Town of Newington thank you for your volunteerism and dedication to something bigger than all of us, protecting your Newington neighbors in need.‚ÄĚ
The tribute was read aloud by councilor and fellow firefighter Chris Miner, an 11-year member of the NVFD. Afterwards, Brideaux addressed councilors and members of his company, who all attended in uniform.
‚ÄúI really enjoyed being a firefighter all these years,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúAt this point in time my body says it‚Äôs not for me anymore; it‚Äôs more for the younger guys.‚ÄĚ
Brideaux and his wife are still living in the same house where he grew up. He‚Äôs joined the Newington Veteran Firefighters Association and plans to continue staying involved in department activities, though he will no longer be driving Co. 2‚Äôs apparatus.
‚ÄúWally was active all 47 years,‚ÄĚ Fire Chief Chris Schroeder said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs been an asset and a mentor to our young people. He set the standard and was there when we needed him.‚ÄĚ
Over the last five years, the NVFD has bid goodbye to several veteran members.
Richard ‚ÄúDick‚ÄĚ Brown hung up his fire helmet in Sept. 2015 after 50 years of service. Like Brideaux, he also served with Co. 2.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs a long time to serve,‚ÄĚ the Chief pointed out. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm not sure we‚Äôre going to see that type of dedication again.‚ÄĚ
Councilors praised Brideaux for his commitment to the town, and the sacrifice that kept him away from his family for long hours at times.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm sure in those 47 years you missed birthdays and other family events,‚ÄĚ Tim Manke said. ‚ÄúI know Newington is better for your service.‚ÄĚ
Gail Budrejko called the NVFD ‚Äúone of the town‚Äôs jewels‚ÄĚ and spoke about Brideaux‚Äôs ongoing legacy.
‚ÄúThe service of all the volunteers of the Newington Volunteer fire Department is what makes Newington a great community,‚ÄĚ Mayor Roy Zartarian added. ‚ÄúThank you to you all.‚ÄĚ
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.