Amherst firefighters honoured by MD association

Darrell Cole
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$500,000 in fundraising over 50 years

The Amherst Fire Department was honoured for a special achievement Saturday during its annual banquet.

Shelley McWilliams of the MD association presents a token of appreciation to Amherst firefighter Dwight Wheaton recognizing the department’s $500,000 contribution to MD research over 50 years.

AMHERST – The Amherst Fire Department was honoured for a special achievement Saturday during its annual banquet.

The department was recognized for 50 years of service to muscular dystrophy and its annual John Michels Sr. Ladder sit that this year raised $12,000 for MD research.

“With this donation, the Amherst Fire Department has surpassed the $500,000 mark,” Shelley McWilliams of the MD association said. “That’s a pretty amazing accomplishment for a town of 10,000 people.”

The Amherst department has been raising funds for MD since 1964 and for the last decade and a half have used its annual ladder sit as its primary fundraiser for the charity. The ladder sit, that started as a fundraising challenge against the Cole Harbour fire department, was renamed in honour of Michels several years ago.

Firefighter Raymond MacDonald was thanked for the department for spending more than 50 hours atop the ladder in the Wal-Mart parking lot back in June.

The department also recognized several longtime members for their years of service, while the firefighters’s association recognized Matt Selig as its volunteer of the year.

Tony Ryan was recognized for five years of service, Leon Burke, Kelly Chappell and Bob Sperry were honoured for 10 years and Capt. David Black, Capt. Steve Landry and Capt. John Matthews were recognized for 20 years.

Lt. Bob Blenkhorn, who is retiring from the department, was recognized for 30 years and Deputy Chief Paul Black and Gary Hunter were each recognized for 35 years.

Chief Bill Crossman, who is retiring in March after more than 37 years with the department, and 10 as chief, said the department responded to 260 calls this past year – a 12 per cent drop from the previous year. He said there were many different types of calls, which says a lot about the training of the department’s membership.

Crossman said there are numerous reasons for the drop in calls, including more modern appliances in homes, better building codes and public education, including the Community Safety Net program the department takes to area elementary schools.

Mayor Robert Small congratulated the department on its excellent record and paid tribute to the chief for his years of leadership and input to the town.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Amherst Fire Department, MD association, Wal-Mart Community Safety Net

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