Editorial: We’ll miss you, Buddy

Retired Southington Fire Chief Harold L. Clark

As we were putting this issue together on Tuesday, news was trickling in about a house fire on Berlin Street in Southington. Firefighters were called to the scene just after 2 a.m., and help arrived from all across town with some additional help from the Cheshire Fire Department.

The residents weren’t home at the time, so nobody was seriously injured. But one firefighter did suffer a minor injury. The house was declared a total loss.

Incidents like these help show how important a town’s emergency workers are to the safety and well-being of our community. It showed the valor and commitment of our town’s volunteer and paid professionals as they battled to try to save a neighbor’s home.

Southington is blessed with a great crew of emergency workers. Whether it’s a fire, a chemical spill, a car accident, a service call, or a fundraiser, these men (and woman) help keep our town safe. It’s a strong legacy of service that starts at the top.

This weekend marks the official end of an era with the retirement of Southington Fire Chief Harold “Buddy” Clark after almost four decades of service to this town. It’s a big loss to the department and our town, but we wish him well.

At the Jan. 23 Town Council meeting, Christopher Robertson—one of the town’s five fire commissioners—applauded the retiring chief. “After 39 solid years of service, the only thing we should be asking him is what can we do for you?” Robertson said. “Thank you for your service, your hard work and thank you from the captains and battalion chiefs and everybody. “

We couldn’t have said it any better. Clark has served our town well. Over the years, he has been a valuable asset at every level. He has been a good partner with other emergency services, and he has proven himself as an excellent partner with the press. More than once, he has helped us to cover various crises around town, so that we can provide fast and accurate information to the town’s residents. We thank him for that.

Clark began his career as a volunteer firefighter over 39 years ago, and he worked his way up the ladder to the top spot. Under his leadership, Southington’s fire department is second to none.

The town boasts over 70 firefighters with more than 30 paid firefighters and a strong core of volunteers. Every week, the Observer posts a long list of fire calls, and it’s clear that safety and service are at the top of the department’s list.

When Robertson addressed the Town Council, he shared a few stats that show how committed our town’s firefighters continue to be. Over the past seven months, they have answered over 1,200 calls. Under Clark, the town recently hired its first female firefighter. Most importantly, his department has performed countless feats of heroism and public service. That, we believe, will be his legacy.

Thank you.

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