Association honors the county’s best firefighters
FERRISBURGH — The atmosphere was celebratory as almost 200 firefighters from 17 local departments gathered at the Eagles Club for the Addison County Firefighters Association (ACFA) 76th annual meeting this past Wednesday. They took the opportunity to pay tribute to their colleagues who have died, share a few laughs, and celebrate the year’s achievements.
Those achievements included organizing the 130th annual Vermont State Firefighters Association Convention and holding the convention in Middlebury this past summer without any cost to the Addison County association, and collectively completing 13,000 hours of training in 2019. The Middlebury department completed the most training over the course of the year.
Vermont Commissioner of Public Safety Michael Schirling told the crowd that Addison County departments were at the top in the state when it comes to training.
“Everybody being here is emblematic of the reputation that you have earned,” he said.
The ACFA also celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Regional Fire School. At the meeting they dedicated the fire school to former Bristol Fire Department Assistant Chief Peter Coffey, in honor of his 44 years of service.
The meeting was attended by Gov. Phil Scott, Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, and a representative from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, all of whom expressed their appreciation for the difficult and dangerous work Addison County firefighters do to protect their communities.
“I think I speak for all Vermonters when I say how grateful we are for all you do,” Gov. Scott said. “You save not only lives but livelihoods … it takes a special kind of person to see a problem and run towards it.”
Lt. Gov. Zuckerman reiterated the point.
“You really embody the word community — you live in the community, you work in the community, and at the drop of a hat you are ready to serve your community,” he said.
Although the speakers expressed concern about how Vermont’s declining and aging population was contributing to a decline in recruitment to area departments, the assembled firefighters didn’t let those worries dampen the evening’s mood. Attendees at the meeting were generous with their applause — and friendly heckling — when their colleagues were honored with awards over the course of the evening.
Recognition and Awards Committee Chair Michael Donnelly presented awards to six firefighters, nominated by their colleagues, who have distinguished themselves through their hard work, bravery, and dedication to their departments and communities.
The awards were:
Chief Thomas Estey Training Officer of the Year: Lt. Adam Delisle (Ferrisburgh).
Emergency Maintenance Technician/Truck Captain of the Year: Asst. Chief Curtis Layn (Monkton).
Firefighter of the Year: Firefighter Jeremy Steele (Monkton).
Senior Firefighter of the Year: Firefighter Jim Averill (Ferrisburgh).
Chief Robert Jenkins Line Officer of the Year: Capt. Jeffrey Carpenter (Middlebury).
Francis Shorkey Fire Chief of the Year: Asst. Chief Kevin LaRose (Bristol).
The Ferrisburgh fire department was also celebrated with an award for the highest attendance at the ACFA’s quarterly meetings.
Lisa Denton, owner of the Ferrisburgh Bake Shop & Deli, received the Friend of ACFA Award for her dedicated volunteerism.
The last order of business of the evening was the election of association officers for the coming year. Myron Selleck of Middlebury was elected president, Jeff Cousineau of Lincoln was elected vice president, Ferrisburgh’s Paul Hoffman secretary, and Bristol’s Karen Dearborn treasurer.
Throughout the evening, a main focus of speakers and presenters was the importance of ACFSA members’ dedication and service to their communities. Nobody could argue that their hard work for the past 76 years has been in vain.
“I know you’re doing your part,” Gov. Scott told the audience. “Without our volunteers, we would be in a lot worse predicament than we are today.”
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