South Hadley fire buff gets top honor 

  • Kenneth Beliveau poses with the International Fire Buff Associates’ Fire Buff of the Year trumpet. —International Fire Buff Associates

Staff Writer
Published: 10/11/2018 2:53:10 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — In recognition of decades of community fire service, South Hadley resident Kenneth Beliveau has been named Fire Buff of the Year by the International Fire Buff Associates. 

“It’s quite an accomplishment. I didn’t know it was coming, and to be recognized by my peers for that is an amazing thing… It kind of had me floored for a minute, speechless,” Beliveau said Thursday of the honor, which he received at a ceremony in Wisconsin. 

In a video of the ceremony, which was shared by the IFBA Facebook page, Stuart Nathan, IFBA director of publicity and chair of the Fire Buff of the Year Award Committee, said that the award is given to an individual  “who best exemplifies the qualities that distinguish a fire buff,” including service to IFBA, service to local and national fire organizations, and advocacy of fire buffing. 

The organization, founded in 1953, is composed of 65 clubs throughout the United States and Canada. Members assist firefighters through services such as rehabilitation work at major incidents, running fire museums and supporting fire prevention activities. 

Beliveau began working as a volunteer firefighter in Simsbury, Connecticut in 1974, where he remains involved as a department photographer and historian. He became a career firefighter in 1979 in East Hartford, where he was eventually promoted to captain. In 2013, East Hartford named him Firefighter of the Year.

Beliveau serves as vice president for the IFBA’s New England region, and has also held the positions of organization president and chairman of the 2015 annual convention. Beliveau said he has also been involved with a variety of firefighting organizations throughout New England. 

Following his retirement in 2014, Beliveau continues to work part-time with the East Granby Volunteer Fire Department in Connecticut.

Beliveau said that he became interested in firefighting through his father, who worked as a volunteer firefighter and would take him along to fires. 

Beliveau took a keen interest in the history of firefighting, and became involved in fire photography as a way to document the actions of firefighters. His photography has been used by various Springfield and Hartford fire departments for historical documentation and major incident reviews, and has also appeared in  publications such as Firehouse Magazine, Fire Chief Magazine and The Fire Chief’s Handbook.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at

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