Fire departments honor top members an annual dinner

FERRISBURGH — Members of each of the 17 county fire departments turned out for the annual Addison County Firefighters Association meeting this past Wednesday evening at the Eagles Club in Ferrisburgh, during which the organization honored several firefighters for their service.
Featured guest Lt. Gov. Phil Scott thanked the hundreds of firefighters, all in their dress uniforms, for helping out in their respective communities.
“It’s fortunate to have all of you as volunteers, I don’t know what we’d do without your service,” Scott said of the 5,500 firefighters spread across Vermont’s 230 volunteer fire departments. “I know how much you sacrifice, in terms of training, missing meals and time with your families. While we’re home and asleep, you’re out protecting us.”
Scott, who was easily elected to a third term in November, said that Legislators in Montpelier should aspire to the professionalism and conduct of firefighters.
“We need to transition from being more like politicians to being public servants, to being more like you,” he said. “When you go to an emergency, you don’t ask whether they are Democrats or Republicans or independents, you don’t ask how much money they have, you don’t even care who started the fire. You’re just there to help.”
Scott encouraged the firefighters to stay involved in their departments and to reach out to him in Montpelier.
After the lieutenant governor concluded his remarks, Middlebury Fire Chief David Shaw thanked Scott for being accessible at the capitol. Shaw recounted a day last year when he and fellow firefighters made an unscheduled visit to Scott’s office, and Scott made time to meet with them.
The annual ACFA dinner is an opportunity to recognize members for exemplary service, and the organization gave awards to many firefighters Wednesday evening. Recognition and Awards Committee head Mike Donnelly of Ferrisburgh told the crowded hall filled with several hundred firefighters that competition this year was especially tight, with 33 nominees in eight categories.
Mitchell Horner of Starksboro was chosen from seven nominees as Firefighter of the Year, while Steve Torrey of Addison was picked from five nominees as Senior Firefighter of the Year.
The Weybridge Fire Department won the Attendance Award, for having the greatest number of firefighters at ACFA meetings over the past year.
Mark Chaffee of Ferrisburgh wasn’t able to accept his award for Line Officer of the Year because he, along with much of his department, left for a call midway through the ceremony.
Other winners included:
Youth Firefighter of the Year: Brian Wendell, Bristol.
EMT Truck Captain of the Year: Jarret Kimball, Bristol.
Chief Officer of the Year: Dean Gilmore, New Haven.
ACFA Life Membership: David Shaw, Middlebury.
Friend of the ACFA Award (given to a person or company that has helped local firefighters): CVC Paging, Rutland.
In addition to the ACFA awards, the Vermont State Firefighters Association also awarded two Addison County members with lifetime membership: Bernard Dubois of Addison and Jim Ford of New Haven.

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