Brian Souza has helped keep the town of Westport safe for more than 30 years.
As a firefighter/EMT and reserve police officer for the town, Souza has battled fires, saved lives, helped catch criminals, prevented wrongdoing and assisted countless residents in times of need.
Souza’s official retirement date is Aug. 12, but his last full day was May 31 because he had some unused vacation and personal time. The department held a party for him at the station. Many Westport public safety personnel as well as chiefs from other fire departments came to acknowledge Souza’s dedication and service.
“It was really nice,” Souza said.
Souza, 57, worked for most of his career at Station 2 on Briggs Road. He started as a call firefighter in 1984 and became full-time with the fire department in July 1987.
This is Souza’s 33rd year of service to the town.
“It’s the right time. I’m still going to help out as a call firefighter. I’ll stay on with the police doing details and odds and ends and I’ll be on the motorcycle,” Souza said.
“I’m going to wind down."
During his tenure, Souza has seen two stations close (Head Fire Station 3 on Reed Road and Village Station, former Station 1 on Main Road,) a new station built on Hixbridge Road (now Station 1) and a big addition on the Briggs Road Station (Station 2).
“Things have really changed a lot. The manpower has stayed the same, but the calls have probably tripled since I came on,” Souza said.
Souza worked many hours, sometimes up to 100 hours a week, between the fire and police departments, and assisted in every type of emergency situation.
“I’ve had an exciting career. I’ve done just about everything,” he said.
Janet, Souza’s wife of 32 years, has always understood Souza’s commitment to the job.
“The scanner goes off. The phone rings. And he goes out the door,” Janet said.
Fire Chief Brian Legendre has worked with Souza for 28 years.
“He’s very dedicated to the department and to the town. He’s one of the original EMTs,” Legendre said. “Whenever we need help, he’s always first to step up. He’s definitely going to be missed."
Souza always wanted to be a firefighter or police officer. He grew up in Fall River where his father, Joseph Souza, was a motorcycle cop for 30 years. When people see Souza on his motorcycle now, he is sometimes mistaken for his father, who died in 1990.
Souza has received several commendations from the police department and life-saving and meritorious service medals from the fire department.
The biggest fire that Souza worked was at Goldstein’s Farm on Gifford Road in 1988. He was the second firefighter on the scene. Firefighters from all over Bristol County were called in to help.
“The whole hayloft was fully involved. Then the fire started coming through the ceiling on top of us and that’s when we bailed out. We were there all afternoon,” Souza said.
Another time, Souza got the nickname “Lawnmower Cop” after he noticed unusual activity at a neighbor’s house while he was mowing his lawn. He realized a robbery was in progress and called it in. He helped detain the robbers, who were planning a home invasion. It turned out that they had robbed several other homes in Fall River that day.
“We solved quite a few crimes that afternoon,” Souza said.
Now that he is officially retired, Souza plans to spend more time with his family at their home in upstate New York and may also travel.
Souza considers himself lucky because he was often in the right place at the right time.
“You do what you’ve got to do. In the end, you do the right thing to save someone’s life,” Souza said.