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Barre honors outgoing fire chief, charter members

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 March 2017 at 12:25 pm

Jerry Bentley is pictured with his family, including from left: parents, Doug and Linda; daughter Kara; son Brian; wife Terry; and brother Tom.

Photos by Tom Rivers

EAST SHELBY – The Barre Volunteer Fire Company honored Jerry Bentley on Saturday for his many years of service to the fire department, including two stints as fire chief from 1997 to 2004, and 2015 to 2016. Bentley was recently named a deputy fire coordinator for the county for the center battalion.

Bentley in the top photo is wiping a tear from his eye after being presented with an award of appreciation from Chris Flansburg, captain; Karl Diesel, president; and Ben Flansburg, assistant chief.

Driesel said Bentley, who also works full-time for the Barre town highway department and part-time as a dispatcher, is a “people person.”

“He has a way of encouraging people to push themselves to do a little more,” Driesel said.

The fire department responded to 2019 calls in 2016, including 114 EMS, 27 motor vehicle accidents, 5 structure fires, 6 car fires, 5 brush fires, 16 miscellaneous fires, 4 traffic control, 1 Mercy Flight landing zone and 32 mutual aid.

The following were the top 10 in responding to calls: Jerry Bentley, 132; Amanda Dixon, 119; Pat Lamka, 108; Kara Bentley, 99; James Neal, 96; Sarah Lamka, 92; John Egloff,89; Mark Farone, 87; Brian Bentley, 79; and Geddy Morgan, 78.

The fire department completed 1,332.5 hours of fire/EMS training last year, including in-house, county and state fire courses.

“Training is very important to me, more than making calls,” Bentley told the firefighters. “I would rather have members know what they are going to do when they get to a call than wonder how do it when they get there.”

The top 10 in training hours include: Richard Barnard, 159; Brian Bentley, 119; Jerry Bentley, 104; Kara Bentley, 101; Sarah Lamka, 76.5; Karl Driesel, 75; Andrew Faskel, 62.5; Chris Flansburg, 62; John Egloff, 48.5; Doug Bentley, 43.5.

Jerry Bentley presented two awards as the outgoing chief on Saturday. He named Rich Barnard the “firefighter of the year.” Barnard led the department with 159 training hours, including completing the firefighter 1 course and a class for basic pump operations.

“He’s very self motivated and willing to learn,” Bentley said about Barnard.

Bentley presented the Chief’s Award to his daughter, Kara Bentley, who was fourth in the department in training hours and in responding to calls. She was a high school student for half the year until she graduated last June, and then attended classes at Finger Lakes Community College.

Kara, 18, is working on becoming an EMT. She said she enjoys helping others through the fire department. Her father said she has become a dependable member of the department, looking to improve her skills.

The fire company also announced that Steve Karas was made an honorary lifetime social member in appreciation for portraying Santa the past two years while firefighters delivered toys to local children. Karas was unable to attend the dinner on Saturday because he is in Florida.

The fire department formed in 1961 and several of the charter members have been steady contributors all 55 years. They were recognized during the installation banquet on Saturday, including Herman Hicks, John Baron, Don Josyln, Larie Vagg, Warren Snyder and Frank Babcock. The 55-year members were presented with citations of appreciation from the State Assembly and Orleans County Legislature.

Herman Hicks accepts certificates of appreciation on Saturday for his 55 years of service to the Barre Volunteer Fire Company. Eileen Banker, chief of staff for Sate Assemblyman Steve Hawley, hands Hicks one of his certificates. Dale Banker, the emergency management director, is in back left by State Sen. Rob Ortt.

Hicks remains a commissioner with the Barre Fire District. He was the fire company’s first assistant chief in 1961. A retired dairy farmer, he served in numerous roles for the fire company throughout its history.

“There was a big demand (for the fire company) and we have done a lot of good for the community,” Hicks said.

He is encouraged by a new generation of volunteer firefighters stepping up to serve in Barre.

“We have a lot of people interested and that’s what you need, a good nucleus,” Hicks said.

John Baron receives his certificates of appreciation for his 55 years with the Barre Volunteer Fire Company from President Karl Driesel. Baron worked the third shift at Rochester Products and he said that made him available to respond to many fire calls during the day, when other firefighters were working. He was an active firefighter for 25-30 years.

“You’re needed,” he said about volunteer firefighters. “I also have made a lot of friends through the fire department.”

State Sen. Rob Ortt addressed more than 100 people who attended the annual installation dinner for Barre, held at the East Shelby Fire Hall. Ortt said the volunteer firefighters provide an invaluable service to their communities, and save taxpayers an estimated $3 billion annually if the communities had to have paid personnel.

Ortt was praised by Dale Banker, the county’s emergency management coordinator, for directing a $75,000 grant to pay for a fire prevention trailer to be used for smoke simulation, and teaching children and the community about fire safety and prevention. That trailer will be available county-wide.

Banker also said State Assemblyman Steve Hawley has directed funds for a firefighter recruitment effort, paying for billboards and advertisements to urge people to join their local volunteer fire department. Those ads and billboards will be out in April.

Marty Zwifka receives a plaque and appreciation for his 20 years of service as deputy fire coordinator for central Orleans County. Dale Banker, the EMO director, made the presentation to Zwifka. Jerry Bentley has succeeded Zwifka in the part-time role as deputy fire coordinator.

These Barre officers take the oath of office. They include, from left: Barry Flansburg, Brian Bentley, Nic Elliott and Ben Flansburg.

The officers for 2017 include:

Department Officers: Karl Driesel, president; Jesse Babcock, vice president; Terry Bentley, secretary; and Edgar Morton, treasurer.

Firematic Officers: James Neal, chief; Ben Flansburg, assistant chief; Chris Flansburg, captain; Bert Mathes, 1st lieutenant; Nic Elliott, 2nd lieutenant; Brian Bentley, 3rd lieutenant; Barry Flansburg, 4th lieutenant; Andrew Faskel, EMS captain; Susan Driesel, Fire Police captain; Doug Bentley, chief mechanic; John Egloff, assistant mechanic.

Directors: Jesse Babcock, Bert Mathes, Bradlee Driesel, Chris Flansburg, Andrew Faskel and Bill Basinait.

Ladies Auxiliary Officers: Betty Hazel, president; Stephanie Corke, vice president; Stephanie Spencer, secretary; Maura Curtis Moy, corresponding secretary; Debby Westlund, treasurer; and Georgianna Gauthier, flag bearer.

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