'Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters'
Simsbury’s six fire stations and the Frank Bradley Memorial will be illuminated with red lights for a week for “Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters,” beginning Sunday, September 27, as a part of National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend.
The official national tribute to those firefighters who died in the line of duty during the previous year is sponsored by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
“The Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company and Simsbury Fire District are proud to join the local communities and the nation in remembering those firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty. We also take time to remember our own Simsbury volunteer, Lt. Richard Kelleher, who died while fighting a fire at the Knights of Columbus Hall on November 6, 1981,” said Fire Chief James Baldis.
Simsbury’s only line-of-duty death occurred when Kelleher died fighting a structure fire at the Knights of Columbus Hall, on the north side of the St. Mary’s Church property on Hopmeadow St. The fire started just after midnight. According to an article in the Hartford Courant, Kelleher was on the second floor of the building pulling hoses when the fire grew enough for Fire Chief Charles Behrens to order the evacuation of the building. Kelleher was one of the 11 firefighters to leave the building. He collapsed outside and was pronounced dead at John Dempsey Hospital. He was 37 years old. The fire company’s annual scholarship was established in 1983 in his honor.
The Frank Bradley Memorial is named after the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company’s first member to die. Frank Bradley was one of 17 men who volunteered to form the Fire Company in 1944 when Ensign-Bickford Industries notified the town they no longer had the resources to provide fire protection. Just seven days after its founding, Frank Bradley and his family went to the circus. Bradley and his wife, Helen, died in the Hartford circus fire. Their two young daughters survived and were raised by Dr. Owen Murphy.
The fire stations which will be illuminated are Main station, 871 Hopmeadow St; West Simsbury station, 235 Farms Village Road; Bushy Hill station, 345 Bushy Hill Road; Weatogue station, 251 Hopmeadow St; Firetown station, 344 Firetown Road; and Tariffville station, 7 Church St. The Frank Bradley Memorial is in front of the Main station.