County’s best firefighters honored

FERRISBURGH — Firefighters from 17 departments in the county dined together this past Wednesday evening during the Addison County Firefighters Association annual meeting at the Eagles Club and recognized fellow members for their service.
Looking out at the crowd of men and women clad in dress white or blue shirts tucked into crisp black pants, keynote speaker Michael Desrochers was impressed. The director of state Division of Fire Safety, where he has worked for 25 years, Desrochers said he was honored.
“The number of officers and firefighters in the room is a great reflection on leadership,” he said.
One reflection of the leadership on display was the number of hours these men and women put toward making themselves better firefighters. In total, members of the 17 departments put in 18,126 hours of training. The ACFA bestowed the Turpin Award for training to the Weybridge Fire Department for the 35.83 hours per member they compiled. In second place was Ferrisburgh with 26.92 hours per member, and Middlebury firefighters found themselves in third place with 25.52 hours each.
The Training Committee of the ACFA also dedicated the 44th Annual Regional Fire School to veteran Vergennes firefighter James Larrow. Larrow rose through the ranks to become assistant chief and then chief during his time with the New Haven department. In 1991, Larrow joined the Vergennes Fire Department where he has held the posts of captain and first deputy chief, and he is currently still an active firefighter.  
A big part of this gathering centers on the awards that are given to certain deserving officers and members of the 17 different departments. Michael Donnelly a member of the Recognition and Awards committee is a representative and investment advisor of Equity Services Inc.Donnelly is also a Life Member and a past Deputy Chief of the Ferrisburgh Fire Dept. He announced and gave awards to all of this year’s recipients.
The Chief Ralph Jackman Youth Firefighter of the Year was awarded to Brian Hayes of the Middlebury Fire Department.
The Emergency Maintenance Technician of the Year was given to Roger Richmond of Ferrisburgh. Richmond has 40 years of experience and was a “born mechanic,” according to Donnelly.
“Smooth running of the fire department was important to him,” said Donnelly.
The Firefighter of the Year went to Corey Pratt of the Briport Fire Department. Pratt won out over seven other nominees. According to Donnelly, no project was too big or too small for Pratt.
Michael Daniels of Vergennes was named Senior Firefighter of the Year. Daniels started with the department in 1968, eventually working his way up to becoming the captain and deputy chief. Until last March, he also held the position of the Vergennes mayor for several years.
The 2014 Line Officer of the Year award went to Kevin LaRose of the Bristol Fire Department. Donnelly stressed that LaRose always focused on giving new ideas but also incorporated the basics into this work. LaRose started in Bristol in 1994 and he spent eight years there before going to Lincoln for another eight years. In 2011, LaRose moved back to Bristol, where he has continued to give his full effort.
Chris Mullis, chief of the Addison Fire Department, has been active on several front since joining the department in 1979. Given Addison’s frontage on Lake Champlain, it is not surprising that Mullis has been quite active with the water and ice rescues, including helping to raise funds in 2010 for the purchase of a boat. Donnelly added that Mullis also has put his hard efforts into improving fire safety, as well.
In recognition of all those things, Mullis was named ACFA Chief of the Year.
The ACFA Life Membership award was given to David Broughton and Myron Selleck, both coming from the Middlebury Fire Department.
This year the Quarterly Meeting was awarded to the Weybridge Fire Department, with Monkton and Vergennes vying close for second and third, respectively
The meeting also addressed new business, including that the Red Knights’ money donations have made it possible for the ACFA to give out four $500 scholarships this year.
Middlebury Transit and the Eagles Club for their continuous help and support. At the end of the meeting the ACFA held an election of officers. No new members were voted in though.

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