Area firefighters honored for volunteerism at meeting
FERRISBURGH — Last Wednesday evening, the first fire chief of South Burlington Bud Monell handed Chief Bob Jenkins an antique fire alarm bell. Jenkins took the bell, and rang it twice.
“That’s dinnertime, he says,” Monell.
Just minutes before, as Monell stared out over the room of hundreds of volunteer firefighters, he became choked up. He was overwhelmed.
“I thought I would see just 40 or 50 or something like that,” he told the crowd, reminiscing about past dinners and former colleagues.
And Monell wasn’t the only one surprised at Wednesday’s turnout.
Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, the guest speaker of the night, commented more than once during his speech on the number of volunteers present at this year’s Addison County Firefighters Association dinner and awards ceremony.
“You’ve got a lot to be proud of here,” Scott said. “You definitely don’t get enough recognition for what you do to serve your neighbors. We owe you a huge, huge thank you for all of these hours of training that you go through.”
Scott went on to stress the importance of volunteerism, referencing his own community service start-up, Wheels for Warmth.
“Although I’ve never been a volunteer firefighter, community service is something that is very important to me and something that I talked about during the campaign,” he said. “Over six years we’ve redistributed over 10,000 tires and those are tires that were going to end up in a landfill or something like that and we’ve raised $100,000 that we’ve donated to the state’s fuel assistance program. And that’s what volunteerism is all about. We give our time once a year to do that, and that’s the type of thing that we have to encourage.”
He continued to stress the importance of giving one’s time.
“That’s what I want to do in my role as lieutenant governor — encourage more young people to make service a part of their lives,” he said. “Getting more Vermonters of all ages to realize what a difference they can make by giving up a relatively small amount of time and in giving their talents.”
With both volunteerism and self-reliance, Scott said, “We’ll further ourselves down the road.” He then fumbled his way through the last part of his speech, dropping the “buy local” slogan into the mix and wagging a finger at the 46 percent of Vermonters who didn’t vote in the last election.
Scott wrapped up his speech by thanking all of the volunteers, once more, for their efforts.
“Thank you for coming tonight, and again, very impressive,” he said.
Current ACFA president Tom Estey took over the mike following the speech and welcomed the past presidents of the VSFA, including Bud Monell, Al Riddlin, Charlie Beckert, Ted Hopkins and Richard King.
“Obviously these guys have spent a lot of time in the service and we thought it would be an excellent opportunity to invite them down to show our appreciation for their efforts over the years.”
Estey followed with a moment of silence and final alarm for those members that passed away in 2010.
“The fire service of today is ever changing but is steeped in tradition 200 years old,” he said. “One such tradition is the sounding of the bell. Through day and night, each alarm was sounded by the bell which summoned those brave souls to fight fires and to place their lives in jeopardy for the good of their fellow man . . . We utilize the traditions as symbols which reflect honor and respect to those who have given so much and served so well.”
And following tradition, Estey turned the floor over to Jim Lehrer to start handing out this year’s awards. John Dupont of Monkton was awarded the Chief Jackman Youth Firefighter of the Year title and Tom Sullivan of Middlebury was named the Chief Fred Jackman Firefighter of the Year.
The other 2011 award recipients were as follows:
•Bruce Putnam of Addison, ACFA Line Officer of the Year
•Rayne Plant of Bridport, ACFA Emergency Maintenance Technician of the Year
•Art Bradley of Weybridge, ACFA Senior Firefighter of the Year
•Randy Stearns of Addison, Francis Shorkey Fire Chief of the Year
The following were named ACFA Life Members:
•Roger Thibault of Starksboro
•Tom Estey of Starksboro
•George Roy of Monkton
•Joel Bouvier of Bristol
•Peter Bouvier of Bristol
•Darwin Kimbal of Bristol
Those awarded 50-year pins were:
•Charlie Thibault of Starksboro
•Leslie Rublee of Starksboro
•Roy LaRose of Bristol
•George Smith of Bristol
•Bob Jenkins of Ferrisburgh
•Bob Warner of Weybridge
•Kelley James of Weybridge
•Art Bradley of Weybridge
The 2011 ACFA awards committee was made up of Bernard Dubois of Addison, Jim Ford of New Haven, Roger Thibualt of Starksboro, Ron Warner of Middlebury and Keith Betourney of Bridport.
Tamara Hilmes is at [email protected].