The Meshoppen Fire Company took time out Saturday evening at the Black Walnut American Legion to honor its fire and ambulance members and recognize outstanding service.
Fire Chief Chris Carney and MFC President Travis Prevost served as co-emcees for the program which featured a catered buffet from Old School BBQ of Wyalusing and entertainment by DJ Holly Stark.
Carney said the evening was the first such program in five or six years and long overdue to recognize the people who simply give and then give some more.
He said the company answered 170 calls for the year, “A little above average for us.”
Recognized as Emergency Services Person of the Year was Bill Wells and Firefighter of the Year was assistant chief Darren Hillard.
The Chief’s Award went to one of the company’s youngest members, Tyler Davis.
Carney said Davis, an Elk Lake grad, dedicated himself to becoming a certified firefighter almost as early as he could.
He had been a junior firefighter, but soon after his 18th birthday enrolled in a Buck’s Basic Fire Academy class. Through more than 100 hours of classroom sessions and practical fieldwork, the course gives the recruit/new firefighter the ability to function safely and effectively as a member of a fire suppression organization, and prepares him to take local and state exams for Fire Fighter 1.
Davis completed the training in five months, and Carney said it was an inspiration to see Davis “Go for it,” and he is pleased to count him as the 16th member of the fire company to have Fire Fighter 1 certification.
Recognized for outstanding dedication were Anthony Washbourne, who has helped spearhead getting a widened and much improved driveway to the fire hall, and Dustin Casselbury, who coordinated the fire company’s chicken barbecue during the Wyoming County Community Fair week, Aug. 29-Sept. 3.
Casselbury said he’s been working with the fair booth for 18 years and started as a dishwasher when he was 14.
This past fair, he said served up 4,000 chicken halves and more than 3,500 burgers and other good things to eat.
He said it was only possible because volunteers were willing to fill some 200-plus 4-hour shifts.
“Please give yourself a round of applause, becsue you made it happen,” Casselbury said. He also thanked the chicken cooking crew headed up by Mike Ball.
Chief Carney recognized the Top Five Emergency Services volunteer personnel as John Bartron, Chris Baker, Stephanie Carney and in second was EMT Capt. Jeremiah Coats with the top effort given by Bill Wells who volunteered some 1,200 hours during the year.
Given that they have emergency responsibility for two communities- Meshoppen and Laceyville - volunteers make up the difference from a paid staff which is available.
The paid EMTs were recognized.
Chief Carney also gave a shout out to the mutual aid companies, and thanked former Chief Scott Hayward for coordinating fire coverage of the huge P&G Warehouse fire in Meshoppen Township in January which required 100-plus firefighters to bring the fire under control.
Triton and Montrose companies were not present to receive thank you plaques as they were providing backup for Meshoppen while it had its recognition dinner that night.
Those present included Adam Dietz accepting on behalf of Wyalusing, Roger Walters on behalf of FWM, Dan Smales on behalf of Springville, Bob Shingler on behalf of Rush, Chuck Story on behalf of Northmoreland, Brian Yurgatis on behalf of Laceyville, and Mike Wilson on behalf of Tunkhannock Community Ambulance.
Chief Carney called out the Top Five firefighters which included firefighter and paramedic Hayward; assistant chief Casselbury, fire company president Prevost; and in second place Lt. Jim Lepera; and first was assistant chief Darren Hillard. Hillard was also recognized as officer of the year.
Carney also had a special community recognition for two area businesses: Meshoppen Stone and Procter & Gamble.
No one was present from Meshoppen Stone, but it was recognized for going the extra mile with the driveway project.
Representatives from Procter & Gamble were on hand, and were thanked for their extraordinary help with funding an ambulance. Both Alex Fried and Bob Walsh, shift captain on the P&G fire Brigade, were thanked with hearty applause and a certificate.
Meshoppen Fire Company reaches out to Braintrin, Meshoppen and Washington townships, and part of Windham Township with ambulance coverage of Laceyville borough in Wyoming County, Tuscarora Township in Bradford County, and part of Auburn Township in Susquehanna County.