Nearly 150 years of service to the community have fostered a healthy respect within the Water Witch Hose Co. No. 2 fire department for the important responsibilities they shoulder.

Yet once each year, the firefighters, their families and friends demonstrate they also have a well-developed respect for a good time.

That occasion took place again Jan. 20 at the Candlewood Inn in Brookfield as Water Witch hosted its annual dinner-dance and awards ceremony.

The event was attended by fire chiefs from throughout the Greater New Milford area, as well as Mayor Pat Murphy and New Milford police Chief Shawn Boyne.

There was plenty of good food, good company and dancing, but the evening also offered other highlights.

Chief Jeff Emmons served as master of ceremonies during a program featuring the transition from longtime president George Buckbee to new president Jim Smith.

Paul Hulton was recognized as the department's longest-serving member, 63 years, and Al Tiebout was honored with his 50-year service pin.

Heading into 2012, Water Witch is led by Jeff Emmons (chief), Jim Ferlow (first assistant chief), Don Hapke (second assistant chief), Todd Russell (captain), Richard Squires Jr. (first lieutenant), Edward Noon (second lieutenant), Jim Smith (president), Dean Newkirk (secretary), Lyndall Miller (treasurer) and Paul Thurlow (steward).

-- Norm Cummings

Photography by Carol Kaliff