Saturday, Feb. 11 marked the end of 30 years of service to the Southington Fire Department for Battalion Chief Alan Zygmunt.
Well known to firefighters around Connecticut as “Ziggy,” he began his career in Southington as a volunteer at Co. 3 in February 1986. By way of perspective, Ziggy began his career fully two months before Tom Cruise would introduce the world to the “need for speed” in Top Gun, and Bill Buckner and Mookie Wilson were just reporting to training camp for the Red Sox and Mets to begin a magical baseball season. (For the record, Mookie had him beat to first base either way.)
Two years later, in October 1988, Ziggy was hired as a career firefighter in Southington, continuing a progression up the ladder that saw him promoted to lieutenant in February 2003, captain in June 2008, and finally to battalion chief in July 2016. Since his promotion to captain, Ziggy was assigned as the shift commander for A-shift. He remained in that role through the title change to battalion chief eight years later.
Alan also spent nearly 20 years working as an adjunct fire instructor for the Connecticut Fire Academy. He is the program coordinator for the public education programs offered through CFA. You may have heard him on the radio or seen him on TV, working to educate the public on fire safety both in their homes and their workplace.
In addition to public education programs, he teaches several other programs, including the recruit firefighter, fire officer, and aerial ladder and pump operator programs.
Working with at-risk children that venture into juvenile fire setting has always been Ziggy’s passion, and he took a primary role in the Fire Hawks program throughout his career. A highly successful program, Fire Hawks is administered by Southington Firefighters IAFF Local 2033. Over the years he has worked with many children, helping them move away from dangerous behaviors such as juvenile fire setting.
Ziggy has also been very active around the firehouse, serving on several committees and project teams. He was heavily involved in the strategic planning process for the fire department. He served for years on the Standard Operating Procedures committee, which is among the most important yet thankless jobs in the fire service.
He served as the DOT liaison during the I-84 bridge replacement project at Marion Avenue. He spent 18 years as the Secretary for IAFF Local 2033 and served as the department’s public information officer.
Any firefighter with three decades on the job will see their share of major incidents, and Alan’s career was no different. Early on, he responded to fires at the Old Duck Inn on Clark Street and the Popular Restaurant on Center Street. In September 2003, he responded to the Beaton and Corbin factory fire on N. Main Street. He also served as the incident commander for the initial stages of the gasoline tanker fire on Meriden Waterbury Turnpike.
Zygmunt heads into retirement with a full and accomplished career behind him, widely known and respected as a great firefighter, officer, mentor, friend and strong leader. He is looking forward to spending more time with his wife Zina, sons Michael and Travis, and his adorable granddaughter Dahbry.
To close on a personal note, it’s been an honor and privilege to work with and for him over the years. He’s been a source of advice and guidance for me in my roles as a Southington firefighter, an officer, and as an instructor for the fire academy.
On the evening of Jan. 19 when I was promoted to Battalion Chief as Ziggy’s successor, he walked up to me—and with a smile—gave me some sage, heartfelt advice, “Congrats. Now don’t screw up my shift…”
Yup, he will be missed. We wish him a long, happy, and healthy retirement.
Glenn Dube is battalion chief for the A-shift at the Southington Fire Department.