Firefighter Kevin J. Swan of Beacon Falls died March 10‚ 2010‚ of a heart attack suffered while responding to a call. The 68-year-old Swan was the town’s captain of fire police. For most of his career‚ Swan held a hose and nozzle.
For 50 years he had served in Beacon Hose Company No. 1‚ Beacon Falls’ sole fire company‚ including serving as assistant chief. He was active in many civic organizations‚ including the New Haven County Fire Chiefs Association‚ the Valley Fire Chiefs Association‚ the Red Knights Motorcycle Club and as president of the Senior Center.
When nothing was ablaze‚ he worked as a driver and heavy equipment operator for Mesa Construction‚ and at a company founded by his son‚ Swan Excavation.
For 23 years‚ Beacon Falls firefighter Jeremy Rodorigo knew Swan. ‘Kevin cared very deeply about the fire service. When you joined the fire department you didn’t just become a firefighter‚ you became part of the family‚ and he wanted you to know all about the tradition. He wanted you to know that you were never alone from this point forward. Part of his generosity was‚ once you were taken into the department‚ he treated you like family.’
Former Beacon Hose Chief Doug Bousquet said much of the same thing. ‘There are really no words for Kevin. I got to know him when I first joined the department‚ and I was a little intimidated by him‚ but in a good way. I learned a lot from him. He was a good leader and a good teacher. To me‚ he was like a father figure.’
Colleagues recall Swan’s mastery of firefighting equipment‚ acquired through decades of practical experience. In the early 1990s‚ Rodorigo was learning to drive and operate fire trucks. ‘I remember people saying if you want to learn how to drive fire apparatus and learn to pump these things like an expert‚ you really need to talk to Swan. He knows this equipment inside and out.’
He was ‘an old-school firefighter‚’ Rodorigo recalls. ‘Tough as nails‚ never afraid’ and one inclined first to grab a hose. ‘While we were busy checking and making sure our air packs and hoods were on just right‚ Kevin was already ten paces in front of us with a hose‚ getting at the fire.’
Full fire department honors were bestowed. Firefighters from seven towns participated in the funeral procession. The coffin rode in a 1929 Seagrave pumper which Swan had helped restore and was very proud of.
He is survived by his wife of many years‚ Sandra L. Swan; two children‚ Brian Swan and Erin Swan‚ both residents of Beacon Falls; two grandchildren‚ Olivia and Sydney; and a sister‚ Sandra A. Swan.