Shelby honors firefighter who saved life; 50-year members recognized

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 January 2016 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

SHELBY – Shelby Fire Chief Andy Benz, left, is pictured with Dale Watts, the 2015 “Firefighter of the Year” for the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company. Watts was recognized during the fire company’s annual installation dinner on Saturday.

The Shelby Volunteer Fire Company also honored two 50-year members, Lee Hellert and Anthony “Toby” Satkowski Jr,. and installed officers for the Fire Company, Ladies Auxiliary and Junior Firefighters.

Dale Watts is a 40-year member of the Shelby Fire Company. He is a mechanic at Radiators Plus next door to the Shelby firehall. He is often the first to the fire hall when someone needs help and firefighters are dispatched.

Last March, the emergency dispatch went out about a man in cardiac arrest at Shelby Crushed Stone. The man delivers parts and had been at Watts’ garage earlier that morning. Now the man was unconscious with his heart stopped.

A Shelby Crushed Stone employee started CPR, and Watts was soon on site to take over. The man survived and is alive today.

Andy Benz, the Shelby fire chief, fought back tears in presenting Watts with the “Firefighter of the Year” award before about 200 people.

Watts has been at the firehall since he was a kid. His father, Sid Watts, was one of the Fire Company’s first chiefs.

“It’s in my family,” Watts said.

He estimated he has done CPR 30 times in the past four decades. He is thankful the man survived last year. Watts said that was a first for him, giving CPR and having the person be revived.

Shelby Town Supervisor Skip Draper, right, presents an award to Lee Hellert for his 50 years of service to the Fire Company.

Hellert remains an active volunteer. Over the years he has consistently been among the top 10 of volunteers in responding to calls each year.

“Lee, you’re a special person and I thank God everyday for people like you,” said Gary Lamar, the Fire Company’s outgoing president.

Toby Satkowski, right, also was recognized by Draper for 50 years of service to the Fire Company. Satkowski and Hellert received citations for the State Assembly, State Senate, Congressman Chris Collins, and the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York.

Satkowski recently broke his hip. He has been recovering at Medina Memorial Hospital, which arranged a shuttle so he could attend Saturday’s awards banquet.

Officers are sworn in for the Fire Company, including from left: President Tim Petry, Vice President Dale Watts and Treasurer Kirk Myhill. Other officers include: Lori Miller, secretary; Ed Quackenbush, sergeant at arms; Phil Keppler, chaplain; Dale Watts, assistant chaplain; and Gary Watts, steward.

Junior Firefighters are sworn in including Dominic Viterna, secretary; and Dylan Sturtevant, president. Fire Chief Andy Benz is in back and reads them the oath. Other officers include: Andrea Benz, vice president; and Alex Benz, sergeant at arms.

Benz said the Fire Company has been blessed with a strong youth program that is developing a new generation of firefighters.

Eight firefighters completed the basic firefighter training class in 2015, including: Brandon Arnett, Jared Cassett, Jack Miller, Jake Quackenbush, Jessica Reigle, Dustin Shaffer, Hunter Sturtevant and Shawn Woodward.

The Fire Company completed 1,855 training hours for firefighters last year, which Benz said led the county. Dustin Shaffer completed 206 of those hours, the most of any firefighter in the county, Benz said.

In addition, John Miller led the county with 708 training hours for EMS. Two Shelby members completed the training to become EMTs: Miranda Miller and Josh Mckeehen.

Darlene Rich, left, was presented with an award by Rosey Pray, the outgoing president of the Ladies Auxiliary. Pray has been a member of the Auxiliary for 76 years and also was the first woman to serve as firefighter in Shelby. She thanked Rich for being a dedicated volunteer in 2015.

The officers for the Ladies Auxiliary in 2016 include: Patricia Fuller, president; Ike Watts, vice president; Lori Myhill, treasurer; Amy Watts, secretary; and Elaine Watts, chaplain.

Andy Benz, center, presents Jeff Lyons with a “Friend of the Fire Company” award. Lyons Collision donates equipment to the Fire Company, including radios and flashlights for the fire police, electric winches, and also runs extrication and other drills for the Fire Company. Gary Lamar, Fire Company president, is at left.