Following is a press release from the Orange Volunteer Fire Department: It contained one error, naming Associate Firefighter Andrew Pol as having been deceased in 2019. We have corrected it to state “Associate Firefighter LARRY Pol.” Andrew is alive and well.
With friends, families and officials from area departments looking on, First Selectman James Zeoli administered the oath of office to the officers of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department.
The department’s annual dinner, attended by about 180 firefighters, families and representatives of other departments, kicked off a year-long celebration of the department’s 95th anniversary. In addition to celebrating new officers and future goals, guests remembered three people important to the Orange Volunteer Fire Department who died during 2019.
Fire Chief Vaughan Dumas recognized three firefighters for outstanding service and Auxiliary President Jillian Gagel acknowledged the service of several auxiliary members.
In addition to Zeoli and other members of town government, state legislators joined the celebration. State Rep. Kathy Kennedy, R-119; State Rep. Themis Klarides, R-114; and State Sen. James Maroney, D-14; thanked the firefighters for their service.
“You make our lives safe and you keep our families together,” said Klarides, who also got loud applause when she promised to continue fighting for a regional fire school.
Zeoli swore in the new Orange fire officers after expressing his appreciation for the work done by the department.
“Every person here has someone who is concerned about you when you leave the house,” he said. “We appreciate what you do for this town each and every day. I’m behind you 110 percent.”
A former firefighter, Zeoli promised to support the needs of the fire department. Firefighters cheered when he said preliminary discussions about a new firehouse were under way.
Fire officers sworn in were:
- Vaughan Dumas, fire chief
- Charles Sherwood, deputy fire chief
- Dan Cole, assistant fire chief
- Eric Auscavitch, assistant fire chief
- Joe Duplinsky, captain
- David Tufano, captain
- Dan Abrams, lieutenant
- John Gagel, lieutenant
- Leo Moran, executive board representative
- Charles William Laudenslager, executive board representative
- Peter Daniels, recording secretary
- Lisa Kaplan, corresponding secretary
- Burt Gallant, treasurer
- Art Williams, assistant treasurer
Each officer took the oath of office and had their badge pinned on their uniform coat. John Gagel, a third-generation Orange firefighter, received his grandfather’s lieutenant badge.
Firefighter Tom Astram received an award for responding to the most calls. Firefighter Drew Panapada was recognized for his leadership.
Dumas also remembered Associate Firefighter Larry Pol and OVFD Auxiliary Member Annie Davis, both of whom died suddenly during 2019. Dumas then turned his thoughts to 2020 and beyond.
Dumas said the department responded to 634 calls during 2019, its highest call volume ever. Active firefighters put in 325 hours of service each at fire calls. Adding in clean-up from calls, training, fund-raising, work around the firehouses and other duties, brings that figure to more than 500 hours of service by each active firefighter.
Accomplishments during 2019 included taking delivery of a new truck, improving the radio system, exceeding the department’s financial goals and completing some station renovations.
For 2020, goals include celebrating the department’s 95th anniversary and beginning work on other long-range plans including replacing its 85-year-old station on Orange Center Road and replacing a ladder truck. Dumas also talked about continuing to build close relationships with the police department and fire marshal’s office.
“Information sharing is growing, and we appreciate the positive impact of working cohesively with the police and other town agencies,” he said.
— submitted by Doug Fenichel OVFD