East Shelby recognizes dedicated volunteers, including Mike Fuller for 50 years

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 5 March 2023 at 9:22 pm

Kirk Zinkievich named ‘Firefighter of the Year’

Provided photos: Kirk Zinkievich accepts the award for “Firefighter of the Year” at East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company’s annual banquet on Saturday. In addition to a plaque, he was presented with a statue of a firefighter holding a rescued child.

EAST SHELBY – East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company celebrated a milestone at its annual installation and awards banquet Saturday night.

The occasion was the 70th Platinum Jubilee of the fire company, founded by 13 charter members in 1953. The last surviving charter member was Laverne “Jiggs” Green, who died last year.

Dave Green emcees the 70th Platinum Jubilee celebration Saturday night.

Dave Green, a 63-year member of the fire company, was master of ceremonies. In honor of the 70th anniversary, guests received a commemorative drinking cup with straw and cover.

The evening began with welcoming remarks by fire company president Mike Fuller and ladies’ auxiliary president Bronwyn Green.

After introduction of guests, officers of the fire company were installed by Justin Niederhofer, Orleans 1. They are Mike Fuller, president; Joe Newton, vice president; Karen Bracey, secretary; Allen Turner, treasurer; and Norm Behrend, Gordon Reigle and Alan Lonnen, trustees; and Dave Green, steward. Line officers are Deb Taylor, chief; Devin Taylor, 1st assistant chief; Andy Beach, 2nd assistant chief; Dennis MacDonald, 3rd assistant chief; Jeff Taylor, captain; Laura Fields, fire police chief; Sue Behrend and Mike Fulller, EMS officers; and Todd Ralph, safety/training officer.

Officers of the Ladies Auxiliary, installed by Shelby Town Clerk Darlene Rich are Bronwyn Green, president; Deb Green, vice president; Sawyer Green, secretary; Sharlene Pratt, treasurer; Cassidy Oliver, Shirley Printup and Sue Green, trustees; and Rosie Allen, chaplain.

Members of the East Shelby Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary who received Certificates of Appreciation Saturday night are, from left, Rosie Allen, Judy Allen, Lisa Russo, Jessie Green, Sawyer Green and Paige Green.

Mike Fuller presented the President’s Award to Joe Newton. Newton is a long-time dedicated member of the fire company, who has been hospitalized for a year, first in Erie, Pa. and now in Ohio with a rare infection that required a ventilator and now dialysis. He is slowly improving and continues to keep track of the fire company on Facebook.

Gerry Zinkievich, right, is presented with the Auxiliary President’s Award from Bronwyn Green.

The Chief’s Award was presented by Debbie Taylor to Rusty Hoffmeister, a person she said she could always count on. He volunteers any time a work crew is needed and always sells a ton of tickets to fire company events. He responds to calls any time he is available. Not only is he an important asset to the fire company, but to his community, as well.

“During the blizzard of 2022, he spent long hours with little sleep helping neighboring departments clearing the roadways for emergency calls and personal needs,” Taylor said. “He even assisted with one of our calls for lift assistance with a dementia patient. I give credit where credit is due from this blizzard. I always thought it would be neat to just once be a snow plow driver, but after that storm and being in it, well, curiosity sure killed the cat. I give town guys credit for what they went through, but I can only give one of them this award.”

Taylor also presented the “Firefighter of the Year Award,” this year choosing a person who’s been in the department for many years, and also served as a past chief.

In announcing Kirk Zinkievich as her choice, she said, “He is a big asset. He shows up for calls when he can and is another big ticket seller. He always helps at events and doesn’t slow down, even with the medical issues he’s endured. He has a great personality and is very well liked. The one quality that stands out with him is that he always puts others before himself. You think he had a big heart, but since his rebuilt/remanufactured heart, it’s even bigger as he continues to put his family, friends and the fire company before him.”

The EMS Award was presented by Mike Fuller to Nick Boyle, a new member who took the initiative to complete the courses necessary to become an EMT.

(Left) East Shelby Fire chief Debbie Taylor, left, and president Mike Fuller look at the plaque he was presented Saturday night for 50 years of membership in the fire company. (Right) Mike Fuller is shown with his daughters, Amy Fuller (left) and Katie Crooks.

A highlight of the evening was honoring Mike Fuller for 50 years of membership in the fire company.

“It doesn’t seem like that long,” he said.

He first became interested in the fire company when, at the age of 14, he started working on the Zinkievich farm. They were dedicated firefighters and whenever there was a call, they dropped everything to respond, and Fuller would tag along. He couldn’t join back then until he was 18.

Fuller’s daughters Amy Fuller and Katie Crooks gave a presentation titled “Through the Years” about life in their home with a dedicated firefighter. It didn’t matter what they were doing, if there was a fire call, Mike was gone.

Both his daughters are firefighters and EMTs.

“I never pushed them,” he said. “They wanted to do it.”

Mike has held every line position in the fire department. He has been chief on two occasions – from 1981 to 1985 and again in 2005, when he served for 10 years. He has served as president for five years. He will be 69 in April and is still an active EMT.

Mike was presented with proclamations from representatives of Town of Shelby, Orleans County Legislature, State Sen. Rob Ortt, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, Congresswoman Claudia Tenney and the Firefighters Association of the State of New York.

(Left) Nick Boyle received an EMS award. (Center) Auxiliary president Bronwyn Green commends Judy Allen, 50 years, and Jessie Green, 60 years, for their long-term commitment to the organization. (Right) Patrick Holman, a magician from Medina, entertained the crowd.

Awards from the Ladies Auxiliary included certificates of appreciation presented to Rosie Allen, Judy Allen, Lisa Russo, Jessie Green, Sawyer Green and Paige Green. Judy Allen was recognized for 50 years of membership in the Auxiliary. Jessie Green is a 60-year member.

Auxiliary president Bronwyn Green presented a check to the firemen for $8,000 to help with their purchase of new pagers. Green said the Auxiliary is a big supporter of the fire company, always participating in any function they have.

A final ceremony paid tribute to a member Richard Pitcher, who passed away last August.

The fire company reported new members were Nick Boyle and Dylan Taylor. The Auxiliary also had two new members, Leona Weese and Pat Vadar.

The evening concluded with entertainment by magician Pat Holman of Medina.

The family of Richard Pitcher Sr. pose in front of the memorial wall at East Shelby fire Hall. The firefighter, who died Aug. 12, 2022, was a longtime member of the department and held many positions. From left is daughter Sara Pitcher-Szatkowski, his widow Linda Pitcher, and sons Rich Pitcher Jr. and Brian Pitcher. Fire chief Debbie Taylor paid tribute to Rich Sr. during the annual banquet Saturday night.