City honors its fallen firefighter with street in his honor

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The Fire Department on July 7 held a ceremony to unveil the street sign for Capt. Bill Hartley Avenue. Hartley, the only Westbrook crew member to have died while fighting a fire, was injured on July 7, 1944, when he was struck by a falling chimney at a farm on County Road. He died as a result of his injuries on Sept. 12. His son, Grayson Hartley, third from right, revealed the sign by pulling a rope to remove the bag covering it. 

The Fire Department on July 7 held a ceremony to unveil the street sign for Capt. Bill Hartley Avenue. Hartley, the only Westbrook crew member to have died while fighting a fire, was injured on July 7, 1944, when he was struck by a falling chimney at a farm on County Road. He died as a result of his injuries on Sept. 12. His son, Grayson Hartley, third from right, revealed the sign by pulling a rope to remove the bag covering it. 

  

The 516-foot road runs between Main Street and the Westbrook Arterial next to the Public Safety building. Naming the road, which previously had no name, was approved by the City Council on Feb. 6. Westbrook Fire Chief Andrew Turcotte thanked the Hartley family for Capt. Hartley’s sacrifice in a ceremony July 7. “In this job, where the workplace is defined by danger, any moment however small, can prove to be fatal,” Turcotte said. “This is the reality firefighters and their families live with.”

About a dozen members of Fire Capt. William Hartley’s family, including his son, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren, traveled from Islesboro on July 7 for the street sign dedication ceremony. Mayor Mike Sanphy said during the ceremony that he’s happy to see the sign installed, but is sorry it took so long. “I want to apologize to the Hartley family for the time it took to recognize Capt. Hartley’s service,” he said. “73 years is a long time to wait.”

Grayson Hartley, the son of Fire Capt. William Hartley, said he’s grateful the city named the road after his father. The installation of the street sign took place exactly 73 years after Hartley sustained injuries, which he later died from, in a fire. “It was a long time, but it’s worth it,” Grayson Hartley said of the time it took the city to recognize his father. “My most sincere thanks to the Fire Department and the city.”

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