By Mike Kruzman /

One of the Brighton Area Fire Department’s longest serving firefighters is hanging up his helmet.

Captain Larry DeWachter announced his retirement last week after 34 years with the department. DeWachter said it’s bittersweet he’s but ready to move on to new experiences. He was known around the department for his commitment to public education. DeWachter said that it was an incident early in his career when an 8-year-old girl lost her life in a fire that forever changed his life. He said it became his mission at that point to dedicate his life towards public education to hopefully prevent that from ever again happening to another child.

DeWachter said its been amazing to see all of the changes in the department and firefighting over his time and how the technology with thermal cameras and hydraulic equipment has made a huge difference. He said it hasn’t made the job necessarily easier, just more technical.

Brighton firefighter Brian Gramza said at DeWachter’s retirement party, Friday, that DeWachter was one of the first to spearhead the fire prevention aspect of the job, and made tremendous strides in the bringing the Brighton Department to being a nationally recognized department when it comes to fire prevention and community risk reduction. Gramza called DeWachter “one of the absolute bosses I’ve ever had the chance to work for.”

In retirement, DeWachter said he plans on staying in the Brighton-area and hopes to continue to do public education work non-profits in the private sector and with the state. He thanked the community for always supporting him and the Brighton Area Fire Department, saying this has been a rewarding time in his life.