Roll of Honor

Thomas M. Szpila

Thomas M. Szpila

  • Captain
  • Easthampton Fire Department
  • Massachusetts
  • Age: 64
  • Year of Death: 2019

Tom was born on February 1, 1955. He was one of five children. He lived his entire life in Easthampton, Massachusetts. After graduating from high school in 1973, Tom worked in construction, building log homes throughout New England. He soon understood the importance of obtaining a job with benefits to support his family. Tom’s interest in a fire service career began with his wife’s uncle, a firefighter in Easthampton.

Tom became a certified EMT in 1977. He became a provisional firefighter in 1979, a permanent firefighter in 1980, and a captain in 1995. He completed an associate degree in fire science in 2002. Tom’s firefighting career spanned 33 years, retiring in 2010.

Tom was a talented mechanic and could fix anything, including fire trucks and ambulances. In fact, he acquired a secondary title as EFD’s mechanic. He played a key role in the department’s fleet design and replacement program. He achieved certifications in hazardous materials, radiological monitoring, and pump operations. He attended many FEMA and tactical trainings. Tom mentored many young firefighters and trained captains and chief officers alike.

Tom was a humble, reserved, and stoic man, never boastful about his accomplishments. He was devoted to both his family and the fire service. He enjoyed helping others, was a sincere listener, and loved to offer advice to family and friends. Affectionately known to his fellow firefighters as “Zip,” he also earned the nickname “the Rock.” According to one of his chiefs, “His presence at a fire made those who worked with him better firefighters, and you never wanted to let Zip see you quit.”

Tom was a member of the National Street Rod Association and enjoyed building street rods. He was an avid skier who often joined fellow firefighters on Okemo Mountain in Vermont. He also enjoyed “shopping” in junkyards and watching collector car auctions. After retiring, he spent his final days enjoying his eight grandchildren, who were his pride and joy. In his memory, one of his daughters opened a salon and spa in Easthampton called The Fix, to honor her father who loved the challenge of fixing everything.

Tom departed this life after a long and valiant battle with occupational cancer. He left his wife, three daughters and sons-in-law, eight grandchildren, and countless friends. He served his community selflessly with integrity and moral character. A “good Jake,” he represented the fire service with the highest standards.

Tom impacted many lives in his community and loved his family deeply. His memory lives on in the hearts of all who knew and loved him.

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