AMHERST – Amherst firefighters gathered over the weekend to recognize years of service and for going above and beyond the call of duty.
“We wanted to have at least one night of appreciation for our firefighters and we use that evening to present awards and recognize their accomplishments,” said Bill Crossman, the department’s fire chief.
Crossman said the best part of the banquet was gathering everyone together to honour their members for the work they do.“
“It’s fellowship is what it is.”
Some comical stories emerged during the evening as presenters got up to say their thanks and honours their fellow fire fighters, including some jokes from newly re-elected mayor Robert Small. But for Crossman, there was one story that he had to share with everyone during his speech that evening.
“Oh, definitely the story behind Gary Hunter’s rehab chair,” he said. “Hunter is planning to retire in another year and jokingly, he’s always after me about an lazy boy chair to make it more comfortable for him before he retires. I looked on the Internet the other day and found an appropriate picture (for the slideshow).”
Among those honoured during the evening was 30-year veteran fire fighter Bob Sears, who also won the attendance award six years running. He said he’s loved the job ever since he applied.
“I came up (to the station) on a Thursday night, got my uniform and pager and since then, I have not regretted one single minute of it,” he said.
Sears said the best part is hanging out with his fellow fire fighters after heading to the scene of a fire. He said they love to tease each other.
“You know what? I’m 65 and I’m still going to stay for another couple of years yet,” he said. “I’m still enjoying myself and I’m still climbing the ladder and as long as I enjoy it, I’m going to say in it.”
The fire department also made their yearly donation to the Muscular Dystrophy Society during their banquet. Crossman presented society representatives Shelley and Rick Poirier with a cheque for $11,400.
Small paid tribute to the fire department for its efforts during the downtown fire in late August. The fire department remained on the scene of the blaze for several days and the mayor credited firefighters from preventing a bigger disaster in the downtown.
The department also honoured a number of its members for years of service.
Dave Ralston was honoured for 35 years of service, Alan Perry was recognized for 25 years, Steven Wood for 20 years, Ken MacKenzie and Paul Lacey for 10 years and Marty Furlong and Kurt Fawthrop for five years.
Tim Cook, Allison Murray, Dwight Wheaton and Matt Selig were given awards for bravery after attempting to rescue a man who had drowned at the pumping station this summer.
Marc Buske was presented with the firefighter of the year award and Robert Sears was presented the best attendance award.