Deputy chief of Connecticut fire department dies in crash

Credit: Suffield CT Fire Department

BLOOMFIELD — The victim of a weekend car crash in Connecticut has been identified as the deputy chief of a local fire department.

Police say 63-year-old Michael Jepeal died in the one-vehicle crash at about 5 a.m. Sunday in Bloomfield at the split of routes 187 and 189. Jepeal was a 40-year veteran firefighter who for the past 12 years had been deputy chief of the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Department.

Chief James Baldis says Jepeal was “very passionate about the fire service” and got along with everyone. Jepeal began his career with the Tariffville Volunteer Fire Company and joined the Simsbury department in the 1980s when they merged.

Simsbury First Selectwoman Lisa Heavner says Jepeal led “an exemplary life of service and commitment to his community.”

James A. Baldis Chief of Department issued the following statement:

The Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company and The Simsbury Fire District sadly announce the passing of Deputy Chief Michael J. Jepeal.

Deputy Chief Jepeal has served the Simsbury Community for over 40 years having begun his firefighting service with The Tariffville Volunteer Fire Company, which merged with the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company in the early 80s.  Mike worked his way through the ranks to his current position of Deputy Chief, which he has held for the past 12 years.

Mike had a passion for training and was instrumental in Simsbury’s advanced training of high angle rope rescue needed for Talcott Mountain and swift water rescue needed for the Farmington River Gorge at Tariffville.

Early in Mike’s career, he became involved as an Instructor for Hartford County Fire School where he became the Co-Director of Training, an instructor for the Connecticut Fire Academy where he taught many of the early recruit classes and was recognized as Instructor of the Year by the Connecticut Fire Department Instructors Association. Most recently, Mike worked in the Certification Division for the Commission on Fire Prevention and Control.  Over his many years of service to the fire service community Mike touched the lives of hundreds of firefighters and has been instrumental in the level of service provided by the CT Fire Service today.

At this time of loss, we honor Deputy Chief’s legacy and service to the Simsbury and CT Fire Service communities.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Mike’s family during this difficult time.  Fire Station flags will remain at half staff for one week with the buntings displayed for two weeks in DC Jepeals memory.

Arrangements are not yet complete and will be announced as soon as they are available.

**Associated Press contributed to this story**