Albion honors firefighters of the year

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 May 2021 at 2:32 pm

Paul Urquhart top firefighter in 2019-20, Jeremy Babcock for 2020-21

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The Albion Fire Department presented its awards for the past two years on Thursday because last year’s installation banquet was cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The top photo shows outgoing fire chief Harry Papponetti, right, presenting the Firefighter of the Year for 2019-20 to Paul Urquhart. Papponetti praised Urquhart for responding to the majority of the department’s calls despite having one of the longest drives to get to the fire hall.

Urquhart, 23, joined the Albion FD 2½ years ago. He followed 2019-20 with another big effort in 2021-21, when he responded to 300 of the department’s 445 calls. That was second most among Albion firefighters.

Urquhart in November was hired to be a full-time firefighter/EMT for the Medina Fire Department.

“I love being a firefighter,” Urquhart said. “I love being able to provide a service for the community.”

Papponetti also presented the Chief’s Award for 2020-21 to Urquhart on Thursday during an installation meeting for the Albion Fire Department, which was held at the fire hall.

The award winners in the 2019-20 year include:

  • Fire Police of the Year: Shawn Cook
  • EMS member of the Year: Fred Piano
  • Driver of the Year: Jeremy Babcock
  • Officer of the Year: Rob Conner, Jr.
  • Chief’s Award: Jeremy Babcock.
  • President’s Award: Darryl Szklany
  • Firefighter of the Year: Paul Urquhart

Jeremy Babcock won the “Firefighter of the Year” award for 2020-21. He accepts the award from Papponetti.

Babcock responded to 422 out of the department’s 445 calls from May 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Only three firefighters were at 200 or more calls for the year. Paul Urquhart had 300 and Harry Papponetti responded to 223.

Papponetti said Babcock often was quickly to the fire hall to drive a truck and ran many of the scenes. He then would handle paperwork for the department, responding to insurance companies at many of the accidents and fires. Babcock also was “Firefighter of the Year” in 2016-17.

“He is my right-hand man,” Harry Papponetti said. “If I need something, I call Jeremy.”

The award winners in the 2019-20 year include:

  • Fire Police of the Year: Shawn Cook
  • EMS member of the Year: Fred Piano
  • Driver of the Year: Jeremy Babcock
  • Officer of the Year: John Papponetti
  • Chief’s Award: Paul Urquhart
  • President’s Award: Janet Cheverie
  • Firefighter of the Year: Jeremy Babcock

Papponetti praised Piano for his commitment with so many EMS calls, including when he was going to assist patients with Covid.

“With all of the Covid calls, Fred really stuck his neck out,” Papponetti said. “Fred, the squad is grateful for what you do.”

John Papponetti, left, presents a keepsake to Al Cheverie in appreciation for his seven years of serving as president of the Albion Fire Department. The sign includes the president’s gavel and an image of the firefighter helmets for Cheverie, his wife Jan and their son Andrew. Joe Grube is the new president for the Albion FD.

Cheverie said the department’s finances are in good shape. He presented President’s Award in 2019-20 to Darryl Szklany for all of his “unsung” behind the scenes work, including cleaning the gravestones for many firefighters who are recognized during an annual memorial service.

Cheverie presented the award for 2020-21 to his wife Janet Cheverie, who is an active firefighter with the Albion FD.

“She is the glue holding me together the past seven years,” Cheverie said. “She keeps me sane.”

Dale Banker, the director of the Orleans County Emergency Management Officer, swears in the new officers for the Albion FD. He is shown shaking hands with Fred Piano, the EMS captain.

Other officers for 2021-22 include:

  • Fire Chief: Rob Conner, Jr.
  • Deputy Chief: James Peruzzini
  • Assistant Chief: John Papponetti
  • Captain: Steven Papponetti
  • 1st Lieutenant: empty
  • 2nd Lieutenant: Joe Grube
  • 3rd Lieutenant: Jeremy Babcock
  • Chief Mechanic: Harry Papponetti

2021 Executive Committee

  • President: Joe Grube
  • Vice President: Jeremy Babcock
  • Treasurer: Dawn Marciszewski
  • Assistant Treasurer/Financial Secretary: Kelly Irwin
  • Secretary: Chrissy Bloom
  • Directors: Jeremy Babcock, Carol Tibbits and Nathan Bloom

Years of Service Awards

  • 10 years – Fred Piano
  • 15 years – Amber Conner, Marsha and Shawn Cook, Dennis Hunt
  • 20 years – Rob Conner
  • 40 years – Martin Stirk
  • 50 years – Harry Papponetti