West Windsor Fire Chief Mike Spackman waves to the crowd on Wednesday. Photos by Katy Savage

Volunteer firefighters celebrated in West Windsor Fourth parade

Submitted 4 months ago

The town honored West Windsor Volunteer Fire Department’s 60th anniversary during the annual Independence Day celebration on Wednesday. 

About 100 people attended the parade and activities along Brownsville-Hartland Road, which included a library book sale, live music, lemonade, ice cream and smoothies prepared by area organizations and a flea market.

The parade’s theme this year was “60 years of answering the call.” 

During the parade on Wednesday, Joseph Ouelette, who has served all 60 years with the fire department, was presented with a plaque for his service.

Ouelette, 89, moved to West Windsor from Claremont, N.H., the year before the department was organized. He served actively until two years ago, when he was made an honorary member.

“We just liked the little town and wanted to do what we could,” said his wife Polly Ouelette, who is now treasurer of the fire department. “You’re very close in a small town.”

Joe Ouelette received a plaque for his years of service.

Jim Kenyon, another lifetime firefighter, rode in a convertible with Ouelette during the parade while Fire Chief Mike Spackman marched in a suit despite the 95-degree weather.

“You don’t think of how stuff creeps up on you so fast,” said Spackman, who has been fire chief for 33 years.

The fire department started in 1958 after a group of citizens pitched the idea at a town meeting following a number of fires that year.

The department purchased its first truck for $10,000 in 1964. Now, the fire department has four trucks and an all-terrain vehicle. West Windsor purchased a new tanker truck for $309,000  in March.

“It’s come a long way,” said Spackman. “The town is super supportive.”

Spackman, 55, joined the fire department at age 18. He became chief at age 24, making him one of the youngest fire chiefs in Vermont at the time. Spackman plans to retire as chief next April.

“It’s humbling in a way to think, in the 60 years I’ve been involved for almost two-thirds of it,” he said. “I feel that I’ve met most of my goals with where I want the fire department to be.”

There are 15 active volunteer firefighters currently. They respond to about one call a week in West Windsor and surrounding towns. 

Like other volunteers, Spackman has continued to serve to be there for others.

“I just want to help people,” he said.

The fire department used two ladders to hang an American flag above the fire station on Wednesday to celebrate Independence Day. An official celebration for the fire department’s 60th anniversary is scheduled Aug. 12 with an open house at the fire station and grilled food. 

The West Windsor selectboard as the three wise monkeys. They hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.

While some parade attendees didn’t show up because of the heat wave, many braved the weather.

“It’s the first time my shoes have ever melted on the blacktop,” said Tom Kenyon, one of the parade organizers.

Following the parade’s success, Kenyon was thinking of other changes in Brownsville and West Windsor. Kenyon looked at the backdrop of Mount Ascutney, the ski area the town recently purchased to boost recreation and tourism following its closure in 2010 during the recession due to bankruptcy.

“Things are looking up in Brownsville,” he said.

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