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Orange (CT) Volunteer Fire Department mourns the loss of active member, 50-year-veteran dies after medical emergency

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June 27, 2024 | CONNECTICUT DOUG FENICHEL, Correspondent
This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

ORANGE, Conn. – 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. 

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.

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DOUG FENICHELCorrespondent

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