Southampton Fire Marshal Brian Williams passed away last week at the age of 52.
Longtime Southampton Town Fire Marshal Brian Williams was scheduled to open the Flanders Firehouse on Election Day. When he didn’t show up to the voting station as scheduled, it caused a bit of an alarm among officials who knew Williams as the definition of a reliable colleague.
Williams, 52, was discovered on Election Day by an aunt who went to check on him at his home and found that he had died.
“Whatever it was, it was sudden,” said Southampton Town Chief Fire Marshal John Rankin, who described Williams as both a friend and a colleague, and a man who had an enormous wealth of knowledge with the fire services and contacts in the community. “He was always working, always making calls,” recalled Rankin this week.
Williams first came to the Southampton Town fire marshal’s office in 2001 and worked there until a few years ago, when he was assigned to the town’s Community Preservation Fund office to assist in enforcing codes on town-owned CPF properties, and to assist with fire investigations. He remained a fire marshal in his posting at the CPF.
“The whole time that Brian was here, he touched so many lives, reached out to so many different people,” Rankin said. “He was the fire service.”
Rankin described his late friend and colleague as a man who was “very personal” and had some family in the area — aunts and uncles — and noted that a daughter of Williams’s came up from one of the Carolinas following her father’s death last week.
And, said Rankin, he was a notable human being in that Williams “didn’t talk negatively about anything.”
He had that rare ability, said Rankin with a laugh, of writing someone a summons for a code violation, “and he would be able to walk away, and you’d think he was your friend.”
The Southampton Town Board held a moment of silence for Williams at its meeting this week. Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman was clearly moved by his death, on Election Night, when he conveyed that “we had lost one of our own today.”
Early this week, Town Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni described his late colleague as a “respected member of the fire service in Southampton Town,” noting that he was an ex-chief in the Flanders Fire Department who remained active in both his department and the Southampton Town’s Fire Chiefs Association.
Schiavoni said he was “quick to smile, possessed a quick wit and gave back to his community in many ways.”
“He will be missed,” said Schiavoni.
One fine body…