The Newtown Bee has known of the death of Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue (SHVFR) Chief William Halstead. William Halstead was also Newtown’s Director of Emergency Management, a post he had held since the position was created.
He has serving as Newtown Fire Marshal until he retired in 2016.
The SHVFR announced on Facebook that after responding to a call on Friday evening, William Halstead returned to his home and became ill shortly. Despite the efforts of SHVFR personnel, Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Newtown Police Department officers, Newtown paramedics, and the Newtown Emergency Communications team, Chief Halstead passed shortly after the incident.
Fire company leaders and family members have requested to the public they said: “Please grant us the space and time to grieve.” The company will update its reporting as further details become available.
A lifelong resident of the Newtown Bee, William Halstead was serving his 45th year as chief of the independent fire company, one of five chartered in Newtown.
William Halstead Elected as President
A longstanding member of the Connecticut State Firefighters Association, William Halstead was elected president in 2020. Before that, he served as the association’s second vice president and then first vice president. He worked as a Fairfield in County Fire Chiefs Emergency Plan president and vice president. He was inducted into CSFA’s Hall of Fame in 2011.
In addition to serving as chief of Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue, he is a member of the Connecticut Fire Marshals Association, Connecticut Fire Chiefs, International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Arson Investigators, Fairfield County Chiefs (and past president), Fairfield/New Haven County Fire Marshals Association, and Connecticut Parade Marshals.
First Selectman Dan Rosenthal issued the following statement Saturday afternoon: “I am shocked and saddened at the news of Chief William Halstead’s passing.”
“Not only was Bill the center of his family’s universe, but he was also, without question, the foundation of Newtown’s emergency services apparatus. In his 44 years as Sandy Hook Chief [57 years as a member] he led the department admirably and with distinction and built an extended family in the process,” the first selectman stated.
Emergency Management Director
“Bill always provided me with sound advice and I always slept well knowing Bill was our Emergency Management Director. His gifts to Newtown are immeasurable. I will miss hearing “401 (his call sign) is on,” all the time on the scanner, but I will miss his smile and friendship most. My sincere condolences to his wife, Debbie, his family, and his Sandy Hook family,” Rosenthal concluded.
He retired as fire chief of Fairfield Hills in 1997, he has also served as assistant chief. The Bee reported in a 2019 feature that William Halstead joined SHVFR when he was 16 years old.
He said: “I joined the fire company because my whole family was involved in the fire company,” he said. “My aunts, my mother, and my grandmother were in the auxiliary, and my uncles were in the company. Years ago, my father was in the company, and my brother was in the fire company.”
During the mid-1960s, when William Halstead joined SHVFR, fire companies were very active in the town’s social scene, he said. Dances, tag sales, and even carnivals were all regularly hosted by the town’s different companies.
“There were a lot of family-oriented events,” he said. “You look at all the companies, and they were hosting a lot of different events.”
William Halstead has served as chief of SHVFR since 1978. Until his has passed away this Friday, William Halstead continued to set the bar for the firefighters in Sandy Hook, regularly appearing at the top of the monthly stats for call responses.