Peter Daniel, 40 years; David Gagel, 40 years; Ken Mitchell Jr., 45 years; George Geane, 25 years; Fred Palmer, 55 years; and Deputy Chief Charles Sherwood, 50 years.
Six members of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department with a combined 250 years of service were recognized by the department and the Connecticut General Assembly at the department’s annual dinner on March 12.
Joining Orange firefighters at the dinner were fire and EMS officers from surrounding towns, Orange Police Chief Robert Gagne, Orange Selectwoman Judy W. Williams, State Rep. Charles Ferraro (R-117) and State Sen. James Maroney (D-14). Ferraro and Maroney brought special resolutions from the legislature celebrating years of service for six members. They were:
- George Geane, 25 years of service;
- Secretary Peter Daniel and David Gagel, 40 years
- Ken Mitchell Jr., 45 years
- Deputy Chief Charles Sherwood, 50 years
- Fred Palmer, 55 years
Other firefighters receiving recognition included:
- 5 years of service: Lt. Daniel Abrams, Lt. Eric Auscavitch, Executive Board member Steven Bernadini, and Klevis Kimca
- 10 years: Capt. Daniel Cole, Capt. Joe Duplinsky, Corresponding Secretary Lisa Kaplan
- 15 years: Chief Vaughan Dumas, Assistant Chief Dan Johnson, Drew Panapada, and Lt. David Tufano
- 25 years: Stephen Douglas
- 30 years: John Grasso Sr, Joseph Oleschuk, Roman Oleschuk
- Firefighter of the Year: Engineer Robert Panapada
- Most Responses: Tom Astram
- Special Award: Lt. Eric Auscavitch
The Fire Chief, who acted as master of ceremonies, also awarded honorary membership in the association to Joe Davis, Harold Manley, and George Rogers. Honorary membership is conferred on people who have supported the fire department in a variety of ways. Rogers operates Rogers Towing.
A donation from the Fire Department Auxiliary also was acknowledged. The money, raised through a variety of fund-raisers, including bake sales, breakfasts, and Santa’s Helper, will be used to purchase rescue equipment for a new fire truck that will be delivered later this year.
Volunteer firefighters in Orange responded to 579 incidents during 2018. That is among the highest in the fire company’s history during a year without a major event such as a hurricane. False alarms were down 13 percent.
“The calls we’re getting are more and more challenging,” according to the chief, using automobile accidents as an example. “You can’t just throw down some absorbent material anymore. These jobs often include hazardous materials and other challenges.”
In addition to responding to alarms, many members had completed lengthy classes for certifications as firefighters, fire officers, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics. The chief acknowledged and thanked all the town’s active firefighters for their time and hard work.
About Orange Volunteer Fire Association
The Orange Volunteer Fire Association provides fire protection residents and businesses in Orange and, through mutual aid, surrounding towns. Members receive training in fire suppression, rescue, hazardous materials response, homeland security issues, and other emergency services.
Operating strictly with revenues from fund-raisers and donations, the Orange Volunteer Fire Department is one of the remaining few all-volunteer incorporated fire departments in Connecticut. Active members are on-call to serve the community on a 24-hour/seven-day basis, responding from stations on Orange Center Road and Boston Post Road.
In addition, the fire company offers public education services including lectures, demonstrations, and training. For information about membership, donations or public education, call (203) 891-1052, click on https://www.orangevfd.com/index.htm or find us on Facebook.
— Contributed by Douglas Fenichel