Steve Racz, at age 94 the city\u2019s oldest retired professional firefighter, still dreams about fighting fires. His life has been full, yet tragic, highlighted by a career he loved but pierced by the death of his daughter at the hands of a drunk driver when she was just 18. Also pierced by the death of his wife, Harriette \u2014 the love of his life \u2014 in 2012 at age 85. But amidst life\u2019s sadnesses, an overall sense of family and community within the Milford Fire Department brought satisfaction and hope, feeding a fire to be part of a community and help protect and safeguard the town he loved. Racz was born in Manhattan but moved to Milford when he was still very young. His father owned and operated an antiques shop, and he was also a volunteer firefighter. \u201cWhen the firehouse was on Factory Lane, dad was a volunteer, and he used to take me and put me on the fire truck,\u201d Racz said. Perhaps that\u2019s what spurred his young desire to one day be a firefighter. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and when he returned he worked in his father\u2019s antiques shop and signed on as a volunteer firefighter in Milford. He was 31 when he applied to the city\u2019s police and fire departments, telling himself he would take whichever offered him a job first. It was the fire department, and on Oct. 12, 1954, he officially started his dream job as one of Milford\u2019s professional firefighters. He remembers battling some of Milford\u2019s big fires, and he remembers the fun times. For a number of years, marsh fires were common in the Meadowside area, and Racz remembers being in the marsh once when the firefighters saw a number of rats scurrying after the flames were extinguished. Later that night, back at the firehouse, one of the two firehouse cats, Fog or Foam, came upstairs and ran across one of the guy\u2019s chests while he was sleeping. Maybe dreaming about rats, the firefighter \u201clet out a scream,\u201d Racz said with a laugh. An on-the-job injury forced Racz to stop fighting fires, but he didn\u2019t leave the department. \u201cI was running one of the engines, and I jumped out and there was a rock,\u201d he said. \u201cI twisted my knee. I didn\u2019t think anything of it, but later it just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger.\u201d He had ripped the cartilage. \u201cThey were going to retire me, but I said, \u2018Can\u2019t I do something?\u2019\u201d Racz said. That was 1974, and Racz became a fire equipment mechanic in the department\u2019s repair shop. He was a lieutenant when he retired from the department. Today, he lives at Heritage Sound, and his home is filled with signs of his love for firefighting, from the firebox at his front door to the scanner that constantly beeps and hums, telling him where firefighters are being sent. He wishes he could go with them. Instead, he gets up at 4 a.m. each day and heads over to the maintenance shed to have coffee with the people who work there. They got him a scooter to make it easier to get there because walking is a bit tricky these days. He said he misses everything about being firefighter, but in a reminiscent sort of way. He remembers the camaraderie, the sense of family that came from being part of the Milford Fire Department. During his career with the department, he served as president of Local 944 Professional Firefighter AFL-CIO \u2014 his wife, Harriette, was named the first woman honorary member. He was also involved in organizing the Police and Firefighters Retirement Association, and he still attends the meetings on occasion. Last year fire Chief Douglas Edo presented him with a firefighters recognition and dedication award, and Mayor Ben Blake named Dec. 12, 2016 \u2014 which was Racz\u2019s birthday \u2014 Steve Racz Day in Milford. He\u2019s thankful for his life as a firefighter. \u201cOnce you get into it, you\u2019re hooked,\u201d he said as the scanner hummed in the background and a dispatcher\u2019s voice could be heard calling out an incident location. \u201cWhen I see them go by, I wave,\u201d he said with a smile.