Shelby Volunteer Fire Company celebrates 70th anniversary
Organization honors firefighters, supporters at annual banquet
MEDINA – Shelby Volunteer Fire Company celebrated two milestones at its annual installation banquet Saturday night.
The banquet was the fire company’s 50 annual event and also marked the 70th anniversary of the forming of the fire department.
A special feature was the attendance of Congressman Chris Collins, who presented chief Andy Benz with a certificate commemorating the 70th anniversary. Collins said his support of fire companies goes back a long way, having supported building fire towers for training in Erie County. He also co-sponsored the first firefighters’ cancer registry act, which directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect data on cancer incidence among firefighters and launch research into the connection between their work and the disease. It provides for tracing the residue of chemicals a firefighter might encounter while fighting a fire.
Assemblyman Mike Norris said this is the third year he has represented the town of Shelby. He praised volunteer firefighters, saying they save taxpayers $3 to $4 million a year by their service.
Guests were welcomed by fire company president Tim Petry and auxiliary president Patricia Fuller, followed by introduction of special guests by Dale Banker, director of Orleans County Emergency Management.
Fire company officers installed by Dale Watts are chief, Andy Benz; deputy chief, David Moden; assistant chief, Scott Petry; firematic captain, Crystal Luckman; firematic lieutenant, Zach Petry; and EMS captain Jeff Lyons.
Trustees for one year include Marcus Watts; two years, Lee Hellert; and three years, Jason Watts. Executive board members are president, Tim Petry; vice president, Gary Lamar; treasurer, Kirk Myhill; secretary, Serena Blair; sergeant-at-arms, Hunter Sturtevant; chaplain, Phil Keppler; assistant chaplain, Karl Haist Jr.; and steward, Gary Watts.
Town Justice Dawn Keppler installed officers of the ladies auxiliary. They are president, Patricia Fuller; vice president, Cindy Robinson; secretary, Robin Watts; sergeant-at-arms, Brianna Wheeler; chaplain, Elaine Watts; three-year trustee, Delores Wolters; two-year trustee, Sharon Wright; and one-year trustee, Rosemary Pray.
Junior firefighters installed by Andy Benz are president, Alex Benz; vice president, Mark Riegle; treasurer, Andrea Benz; secretary, Sydney Watts; and sergeant-at-arms, Jacob Miller.
Fire company president Tim Petry said the fire company is an active and large group, and any one of several members could be eligible for an award.
“Everyone does more than one thing, so I knew after last year’s banquet who I was going to recognize,” Petry said, calling Steve Seitz, Jason Watts, Tim Fearby and Howard Watts, with their wives to the podium. There the men all received plaques and their wives bouquets of roses.
For his Chief’s Award, Andy Benz selected a younger member, who he said is always begging to sign up for training and bugging the chief to allow him to drive the truck.
“He is always challenging older members and is the first four-generation member of Shelby Fire Company,” Benz said, presenting the award to Hunter Sturtevant.
Three members re-certified as EMTs, Joe Kyle, Lori Kyle and Miranda Miller.
EMTs Jeff Lyons, Gary LaMar and Tiffany Petry received medic bags.
Benz reported that Jeff Lyons, Scott Petry and Jason Watts were sent to Ohio for auto extrication training.
Petry chose Marcus Scribner as Junior Firefighter of the Year.
“Since the day he walked into this fire company, he has been an outstanding member,” Petry said.
It is customary for the Junior Firefighters to present a gift to the fire company each year, and this year they chose to donate a search kit for large area searches.
Auxiliary awards were presented by Pat Fuller to Rosemary Pray for 66 years of membership and Shirley Fuller for 62 years.
“We owe them a lot of gratitude,” Pat Fuller said. “They have worked and worked to make us what we are today.”
Fuller also thanked other auxiliary members who work all year long at fundraisers and keeping the kitchen clean. It is customary for the auxiliary to adopt a fireman who lives at the Firemen’s Home on the Hudson, and she encouraged other members to consider adopting a fireman who might not have family and send him cards or little gifts.
The auxiliary each year earns money with various fundraisers, which enables them to give a monetary gift to the fire company in appreciation of all they do for the auxiliary and the community. This year, Fuller presented Petry and Benz with a check for $10,000.
The final award of the evening was Petry’s President’s Award, which he gave to a group he called “Friends of the Fire Company.”
Jeff Lyons, his sister Kim and niece Alexa received the award for Lyons’ help with new fire police equipment.