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Albion FD has a new leader

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 May 2015 at 12:00 am

Steven Papponetti, Nathan Bloom named firefighters of the year

Photos by Tom Rivers – Newly installed Albion Fire Chief Harry Papponetti, right, thanks Rocky Sidari, left, for his five years of service as chief of the Albion Fire Department. Jeremy Graham, center, is the department’s deputy chief. Papponetti mixed in a few jokes while praising Sidari during the installation dinner on Saturday night at the Carlton Recreation Hall.

ALBION – Rocky Sidari turned over the reins as leader of the Albion Fire Department to Harry Papponetti, who has twice before has served as the department’s fire chief.

The change occurred on Saturday night during the fire department’s installation dinner at the Carlton Recreation Hall.

Sidari praised the firefighters for their dedication to the community, for saving lives and protecting property.

He has three children with his wife Erin and the two youngest kids are approaching the age where they can play T-ball. He promised his wife he would make more time for the kids as they got older.

He said the department will be in good hands with Papponetti and the team of officers. Papponetti has been a member of the department for 45 years.

“He knows what he’s doing and he’s a good leader,” Sidari said.

The department has been busy with numerous structure fires in the past five years, and many other emergency calls, including a pipe bomb under a porch, an ice storm that required firefighters to pump many basements in the community, and hundreds of other calls to serve the community.

An enormous fire broke out at Orleans Pallet on Oct. 17, 2013, one of the biggest fires in Albion’s history.

Sidari said the fire on Oct. 17, 2013 at Orleans Pallet may have been the biggest blaze he’s ever seen. That fire engulfed a large sandstone warehouse. Firefighters were praised by the building’s owner for containing the fire to the one building and sparing neighboring structures, including Empire Coating.

Sidari proved to be a calm leader while battling fires and facing other emergencies, said Jeremy Graham, the department’s deputy chief.

Sidari made the time to teach younger firefighters how to respond in emergencies, and empowered the firefighters to gain leadership experience, Graham said.

“He was never power hungry,” Graham said. “He was always willing to explain and to get the learning experiences for the younger guys. He has been more than a fire chief. He has been a friend to all of us.”

Papponetti said he joined the fire department 45 years ago because many of his friends and neighbors were firefighters. He has enjoyed the many friendships he has made through the years and the chance to serve the community.

Two firefighters were named “Firefighter of the Year.” Sidari presented the awards to Nathan Bloom and Steven Papponetti, Harry’s son.

Rocky Sidari, left, is presented a blanket as a gift with images of his family members. Al Cheverie, back left, is holding the blanket with Will Francis, Jeremy Graham and Harry Papponetti.

Bloom, 34, joined the department in February 2014. His brother-in-law Andy Beach is a volunteer firefighter in East Shelby. Bloom said he was inspired by Beach’s example.

Bloom took the 96-hour Firefighter I training class. It was a lot of work, but he persevered.

“You need determination to get it done,” Bloom said.

He estimates he was on about 100 calls in the past year for the department, assisting at house fires, motor vehicle accidents, chimney fires and other emergencies.

Sidari praised Bloom for “busting his butt” with training and getting to so many calls.

“You’re helping people and they may be people you know,” Bloom said. “I find it very rewarding.”

Steven Papponetti, 22, has been around the fire hall since he was a small kid. He was an explorer at 14, a cadet at 17, and an interior firefighter by 18.

He just earned a four-year degree in forensic science and crime scene investigation from Hilbert College and is in the police academy. He starts on June 8 as a part-time police officer in Holley.

Rocky Sidari is pictured with the Firefighters of the Year: Steven Papponetti, center, and Nathan Bloom.

Papponetti said he goes to about 120 to 150 calls each year with the fire department.
“It’s what I love to do,” he said. “It’s following in my father’s and my brothers’ footsteps. It’s a great adrenaline rush and you’re helping out the community.”

Sidari presented other awards on Saturday, including Driver of the Year to Jeremy Babcock, the Officer’s Award to Harry Papponetti, and the Chief’s Award to Beau Piskorowski.

The 2015 officers include: Harry Papponetti, fire chief; Jeremy Graham, deputy chief; Will Francis, assistant chief; Steven Papponetti, first lieutenant; and James Peruzzini, second lieutenant.

The civilian officers include: Al Cheverie, president; Bill Francis, vice president; Renee Rowley, recording secretary; Bill Francis, financial secretary; Dawn Marciszewski, treasurer; and Kelly Irwin, assistant treasurer.

Cheverie, the president, also presented awards to Jeremy Babcock and Dawn Marciszewski for their efforts on the civilian side of the department.

“I’d like to thank them for everything they’ve done this year,” Cheverie said. “It would have been a lot harder without them.”

David Green, the retired Orleans County sheriff, served as emcee of the event. He noted the unrest in Baltimore the past week.

“You see on TV with all the protests and about joining the brotherhood of man,” Green said. “If you want to join the brotherhood of man, join your local fire department. Firefighters don’t preach the brotherhood of man, they live it.”