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Retired Fire Marshal George Lockwood Feted With Honors And Scorching Humor



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Retired Fire Marshal George Lockwood

 Feted With Honors And Scorching Humor

By Steve Bigham

Nearly 200 people packed the Sandy Hook firehouse Saturday night to honor longtime Fire Marshal George Lockwood, who retired back in January.

The event was not officially called a roast, but those in attendance had plenty to laugh about as speakers saluted Mr Lockwood for his many years of service and his spirited personality. All the planning for the event was done in secret, and Mr Lockwood appeared genuinely surprised, if not stunned, when he arrived with his wife, Carol. Family, friends, members of the Sandy Hook Fire Company, and co-workers were all on hand.

“I usually know what’s going on in this town, but not this time,” Mr Lockwood said with a laugh. “They got me good on this one. How they put that by me I’ll never know.”

After a buffet dinner, Board of Fire Commissioners Chairman Kevin Cragin welcomed those in attendance and immediately started in on the jokes, which drew laughter and applause from Mr Lockwood and the crowd. Mr Cragin said the man of the hour epitomizes what it means to be a volunteer in this town.

Mr Lockwood was presented with numerous plaques commemorating his years of service to the town, which included two stints as fire marshal and nearly 49 years (and counting) as a member of the Sandy Hook Fire Company.

“I joined when I was 16 and I’m 65 now,” he said.

Other speakers/presenters included First Selectman Herb Rosenthal, Fire Marshal Bill Halstead, George Lockwood, Jr, Karen Lockwood, Ridgefield Fire Marshal Dave Lathrop, Hook & Ladder Fire Company Chief Dave Ober, and Harry Ackley, president of the Fairfield County Fire Marshals’ Association.

Not surprisingly, Mr Lockwood was showered with numerous gag gifts, including a box full of dynamite that was sent anonymously to the former fire marshal from blasters who had their share of run-ins with Mr Lockwood over the years.

“There are a lot of laws on blasting and we used to toe the line on that stuff. The blasters used to get mad at us,” Mr Lockwood said.

Some of the biggest laughs of the night were the result of those timely comments made by members of the audience, particularly Mabel Phillips, Mr Lockwood’s cousin, who seemed to revel in her good-hearted ribbing.

From the Sandy Hook company, Mr Lockwood was presented the firefighters’ trumpet and a framed gold-leafed helmet front piece. Mr Rosenthal honored the longtime Newtown resident with proclamations from both the town and state. He was also given a check to underwrite a vacation for Mr and Mrs Lockwood.

Although retired as fire marshal, Mr Lockwood still stops by the office from time to time and now serves as a deputy fire marshal under Mr Halstead.

Mr Lockwood’s work in fire investigations dates back to 1968, when he became a deputy fire marshal. In 1993, he became the town fire marshal, and in 1998 Mr Lockwood became the town’s first full-time fire marshal.

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