On Friday May 19th The SLVFD held its annual banquet at the Red Fox restaurant in Saranac Lake.
The annual banquet is a time for the volunteers to take just a little time away from the stressors associated with the daily lives of being first responders.
A key word in our titles is “volunteer” and we should take a moment to recognize that in addition to all the work these volunteers do for the SLVFD without renumeration, they are also juggling additional roles as family members, moms, dads, coaches, students, business owners, and employees who you see in your daily lives around the community.
The banquet is our time to formally say thank you for the sometimes extreme efforts put forth by the volunteers, our auxiliary, honor roll members, and community members who directly support the SLVFD. The banquet is also and maybe even more importantly time to recognize and thank our family members who sacrifice so much each and every time their volunteer is away at training, meetings, work bees, and when the pager tones for an actual emergency. That pager toned 444 times between April of 2022 and April of 2023.
The format of our banquet is actually quite simple but very meaningful. Following a social hour volunteers and families enjoy a nice meal, followed by an awards ceremony. The awards are listed below. Following the awards a year in review slide show is presented which can be viewed in the link below.
Below are this years awards:
SERVICE RIBBONS: For several years preceding this banquet we have been developing a new service ribbon program. Service ribbons much like those worn on a military uniform are being added to our dress uniforms. These ribbons will recognize such things as past military service, being awarded the chiefs award, being named Northern NY firefighter of the year, life saving action, and valor. This program will be highlighted in its own upcoming article as these awards are very significant and we want to recognize the substantial nature of these awards. At this years banquet members who have earned service awards were presented with the ribbons. Stay tuned for the upcoming formal article on these ribbons.
Top 5 Responders: Top 5 responders are recognized and receive a special gift.
1. Dominic Fontana 278 of 444 calls
2. Michael Knapp 259 of 444 calls
3. Nate Jones 198 of 444 calls
4. Christina Fontana 159 of 444 calls
5. Brendan Keough 156 of 444 calls
The Kent Robinson Memorial Scholarship: Kent Robinson who recently passed away was a 50 year member and retired head driver. Kent was perhaps SLVFD’s best recruiter and for several years before he passed he enthusiastically petitioned the departments leadership to develop a scholarship program to encourage young potential volunteers to join our ranks. In honor of Kent’s passing the department is pleased to establish this program and this year the first recipient of the scholarship is Brennan Rutlidge. Brennan will graduate this year from the Saranac Lake High School, he has served as a “RAM” at the SLVFD. “RAM’s” are high school students who serve as junior members of the SLVFD. They serve within the limits of their training. They attend work bees, fire schools, and actually respond to scenes. Brennan continues to serve faithfully as a RAM and we congratulate him on his upcoming graduation and wish him the best in his future endeavors.
The Ruth King Valor and Community Service Award: is a very special award that is presented to a community member each year who has demonstrated exceptional support to the SLVFD. It is named after Ruth King who was the subject of a dramatic rescue from the 1964 St. Regis Hotel fire by Past Chief Preston Burl. This year’s recipient is the current and past village boards. The members of these two boards are being recognized for the substantial contributions they have made in the ongoing effort to realize a new public safety building. The outgoing board is being recognized for securing the seed money necessary to begin planning for this project. The current board has picked up the ball on day one of their new administration to make this project a top priority and have put forth dramatic effort not only on behalf of the SLVFD but also for our first responder partners in the police and EMS departments.
The Volunteer of the Year Award: Newly instituted this year by Chief Keough, the volunteer of the year award seeks to recognize a volunteer who continuously and consistently proves to be reliable in terms of attendance, effort, and willingness to participate in all labors associated with the SLVFD. This award is for that volunteer who can always be relied on to be present when needed. The first recipient of this award is Nate Jones.
The Chiefs Award: is awarded annually by the chief of the department to the person he or she considers to have made the most outstanding contribution to the department during the course of the preceding year. Instituted in 1989 by Chief Don Duso, "Chiefs Award" recipients are honored at our annual banquet with a plaque. A perpetual plaque is also maintained at the fire house listing all previous recipients of the award.
This year Chief Keough is honoring two members who not only continually put forth a huge amount of effort in the daily operations of the department, an amount of unseen work that can only be described as intense, But these two members have also contributed a huge effort in projects that enhance and will continue to enhance the ability of the SLVFD to continue its mission into the future.
This years Chief Award recipients are First Assistant Chief Michael Knapp, and Second Assistant Chief Dominic Fontana.
50 Years of Service: Andy McGill joined the SLVFD as a new member on May 3rd 1973. Andy has served as a volunteer, paid driver, secretary, fire investigator, president of the Franklin County Advisory Board and numerous other positions to include Chief of the SLVFD. He was formally recognized for 50 years of service at this years banquet. Ben Wheeler of The New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control was present to make the award. Ben made presentations recognizing Andy’s 50 years on behalf of 3 separate organizations. The awards were from the Fireman's Association of the State of New York, The New York Association of Fire Chiefs, and the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control. Andy also received an award from the SLVFD.
We are very proud of our members and award recipients. We hope this article helps illustrate the amount of work being done on behalf of the safety of our community. We as volunteers consider it an honor and would not have it any other way.