NEWTOWN, Conn. (WTNH) – Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Chief William “Bill” Halstead, 73, died at home Friday night shortly after responding to a call that evening, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page.

The fire chief reportedly fell ill upon returning home and was not able to be resuscitated by responding medical personnel.

Halstead has been the department’s fire chief for 44 years, after first joining as a 16-year-old in 1965. He was also the fire marshal for Newtown prior to his retirement in 2016.

“We are grateful for his years of service to his hometown,” the SHVFD said in the post. “Please grant us the space and time to grieve.”

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company, Stevenson Volunteer Fire Department, Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company as well as other surrounding stations shared condolences via Facebook.

“Chief was not only a staple in the emergency services in Newtown and surrounding areas, but was also a great friend to many of us,” the Stevenson department said in the post. “Rest in peace Chief.”

“‘Billy’ was one of the most dedicated firefighters that we ever had the pleasure of working with,” the Brookfield department’s Facebook post read. “He was a strong leader, Respected Chief and he loved the people he led.”

The SHVFD can be reached as needed at SandyHook1@sandyhookfire.org.