Memorial recalls sacrifices of Milford's volunteer firefighters

Milford’s volunteer firefighters were relieved from firefighting services in 1983, but their work is not done.

In addition to community service projects the companies pursue, the remaining company volunteers are expected to be tapped to help man a city firefighting museum on Wheelers Farms Road, next to fire station 7.

Milford once had six volunteer fire companies: Arctic Engine Co. 1, Fort Trumbull Beach Fire Co. 2, Myrtle Beach Engine Co. 3, Devon Hose Co. 4, Woodmont Engine Co. 5 and Point Beach Engine Co. 6.

They were relieved from duty when the city went to an all-paid department, but members still meet, with some of the companies boasting more members than others and some more active than others.

The volunteers held an annual memorial service Sunday, honoring Milford firefighters who died in the line of duty, and those members who died in the past year.

Wreaths from each of the companies were placed by a firefighters’ memorial on the Milford green, and the firefighters’ bell on the green sounded as each name was solemnly read.

The ceremony is short but meaningful, reflecting the city’s roots, organizers said.

The Milford Fire Department was formed May 28, 1838, by a special act of the Connecticut General Assembly; and there are a lot of items saved and collected over all those years that tell the story of the Milford firefighters.

Much of that is now inside a museum building on Wheelers Farms Road, which volunteers, including Scouts and Eagle Scouts, have worked to organize over the past years.

There are photographs of firefighters from the 1800s — firefighters with names like Tibbals that reflect Milford’s founding, and others like Hyatt that reflect more recent firefighting families.

There’s a huge wooden ladder that once was mounted to the original Company 2 ladder truck in the 1930s.

Museum archives range from huge to small, from a hand pumper and parade wagon to the many documents that have been saved since the fire department formed.

Most of the items are from Companies 1 and 2, though other memorabilia has worked its way into the collection. Bob Scukas, Arctic Engine assistant chief, said some of the companies still prefer to hold onto their own historic items.

Still, he plans to meet with leaders of the six companies to formulate a schedule of volunteers to man the museum.

“It’s ready to open,” he said. “We just need people.”