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Orange Volunteer Fire Department Bids Farewell to a Hero: Kenneth Mitchell, 50-Year Veteran, Passes Away

July 2, 2024
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Photo of Orange Volunteer Fire Department's Kenneth Mitchell, a firefighter who served for 50 years and died after a medical emergency. Mitchell was instrumental in improving fire training methods.

50-year-veteran dies after medical emergency

The Orange Volunteer Fire Department today announced the death of one of its active members, Kenneth Mitchell, 71.

A past captain with the department, Mitchell died Tuesday after suffering a medical emergency while driving his car on Route 1 in Orange. He was recently honored for 50 years of service to the department.

“Kenny was a firefighter’s firefighter,” said Chief Vaughan Dumas. “He remained an active firefighter in Orange as well as serving with departments in Ansonia and Derby. He also served on numerous organizations that help train firefighters and establish practices and procedures that helped make Connecticut’s fire departments among the best. His loss will be felt professionally and personally.”

Mitchell, a second-generation firefighter, was sworn into the Orange Volunteer Fire Department on Oct. 11, 1973. He rose to the rank of captain. He served as chair of the Carnival Committee and as a training officer. As a member of the apparatus specification committee, Mitchell helped build and welcome the department’s first ladder truck in 1996. 

State Rep. Mary Welander reading a legislative proclamation recognizing Mitchell's service

He served as a past captain of the Webster Hose, Hook & Ladder Company #3 of Ansonia; and a past chief driver for the Paugassett Hook & Ladder Company #4 in Derby. He was the current president of Valley Fire Chiefs Association, chair of the Fire School Board of Directors, past vice president of the Connecticut State Firefighters Association and a longtime member of the New Haven County Chiefs Association.

Mitchell is credited with modernizing fire training in Orange and the Lower Naugatuck Valley. He helped craft rules that allowed Orange to maintain a full roster of volunteers by allowing some out-of-town firefighters and helped with other innovations that kept the Orange department in its high state of readiness. He also had a reputation as a mentor of younger firefighters.

Orange benefited from Mitchell’s service in many other ways. He served as a supernumerary police officer as well as a school bus driver. He also was a member of several other local service organizations.

Mitchell leaves behind his wife, Kim; a son, Kenneth III; a daughter, Kara; and his mother, Jean. He also had several grandchildren. He is predeceased by his father, Past Orange Fire Chief Ken Mitchell Sr. 

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Spinelli-Ricciuti Funeral Home, 62 Beaver St., Ansonia. Calling hours will be Monday evening and the funeral will be on Tuesday. Services will be at the Orange Congregational Church followed by a burial at the Orange Center Cemetery. The repass will be at Racebrook Country Club immediately following the graveside services.

About the Orange Volunteer Fire Association

The Orange Volunteer Fire Association provides fire protection to residents and businesses in Orange and, through mutual aid, to surrounding towns. Members receive training in fire suppression, rescue, hazardous materials response, homeland security issues and other emergency services. 

Operating strictly with revenues from fund-raisers and donations, the Orange Volunteer Fire Department is one of the few remaining all-volunteer incorporated fire departments in Connecticut. Active members are on call to serve the community on a 24-hour/seven-day basis, responding from stations on Orange Center Road and Boston Post Road. 

In addition, the fire company offers public education services including lectures, demonstrations, and training. For information about membership, donations or public education, call (203) 891-4703, click on https://www.orangevfd.org/ or find us on Facebook.

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