Former Editor Passes Away

Richard Pratt Sylvia, former editor of Fire Engineering, passed away at the age of 91.

Dick Sylvia began as a volunteer firefighter with the Noroton Fire Department in Darien, Connecticut. He held many ranks in the department, including chief for eight years. He was also a member of the Connecticut Commission on Fire Prevention and Control.

In terms of journalistic credentials, when he graduated from Dartmouth College he started with the New Bedford Morning Mercury in Massachusetts, then moved on to the Brideport Post in Connecticut, then to the New York Sun, and finally to the New York World-Telegram as head of the night copy desk. He received a master’s degree in government from New York University along the way.

In August 1966, Sylvia was appointed associate editor of Fire Engineering. His column, the Volunteers Corner, was one of the best-read pieces of fire service literature of its time-quoted widely, reprinted frequently, and used regularly by Fire Engineering readers. It ran 221 consecutive months, beginning in 1964. The editor at the time, Jim Casey, called Sylvia a walking encyclopedia on fire service matters.

In January 1981, Sylvia was named editor of Fire Engineering. The magazine won two prestigious Jesse Neal editorial awards for the business media with his participation. He retired in December 1982 at age 69.

Sylvia authored two books for Fire Engineering: Modern Suburban Firefighting (1983) and A Study Guide to Fire Service Hydraulics Questions and Answers (Second Edition 1971).

Calling hours for Chief Sylvia will be on Friday November 11, 2005, from 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM at Lawrence Funeral Home, 2119 Post Road, Darien, CT. The funeral service will be held on Saturday, November 12, 2005, at 10:00 AM at Lawrence Funeral Home. Burial will take place at Nemasket Hill Cemetery in Middleboro, Massachusetts.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Noroton Fire Department 1873 Post Rd, Darien, CT 06820. For additional information, contact Chief Mike Vitti at or Past Chief Bob Buch at or 203-656-7345.

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