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Fri., Oct. 9
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Firemen’s convention honors deceased, awards heroism in memorial service


LOUISVILLE - A bell rang in New Testament Church 67 times Friday afternoon, one for each of the area volunteer firefighters and auxiliary members who died in the past year.

The bell-ringing was one highlight of the 116th annual convention of the Northern New York Volunteer Firemen’s Association’s memorial service. Fire companies from as far away as Long Lake, West Carthage and Lake Placid gathered at the church to honor the deceased and award those who acted heroically in the past year. As each name was called, the uniformed firefighters representing the deceased’s department stood up.

Samuel Lundy, NNYVFA chaplain, urged those in attendance to change their perception of what a “memorial” means.

“Conventionally, we think of it as a plaque on the wall with little brass tabs, each with a name, maybe a date. Or a big rock in the village park, with some names, or a sidewalk, with pavers, each one carefully inscribed, precious to someone,” he said.

“Let’s be honest, unless they are your father, uncle or spouse, they don’t mean a whole lot. Particularly, after a few years (they’re) just faceless names on the wall of time.”

Memorials can also be to the living, he said. Anytime a firefighter jumps out in the middle of the night or leaves a family gathering to answer a call, they are a living memorial to the selflessness necessary in volunteer firefighting, he said.

“By your actions, your unselfish actions, those who we name here today, in this booklet, are rightly and fittingly honored,” he said of the list of the deceased. “You have become, indeed, their memorial.”

The firemen of the year awards went to members of the Lyons Falls, Three G in Glenfield, Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake departments for their life-saving work in three different blazes.

In a February 2011 fire, Lyons Falls and Three G firefighters Steve Hirschey Tom Roy, Bill Aganier and Toma Olmstead saved a woman from a second story window. In another, Tupper Lake Captain Tina Arsenault and firefighters Russell Colle, Nick Rolley and Matthew Whitman rescued a homeowner who was found unconscious in a December blaze. Saranac Lake firefighters Brendan Keough, John Duchaine, John Derby and Aaron Donaldson awoke a sleeping homeowner and prevented him from perishing in a blaze in May 2011.

Bruce F. Buckingham, past association president, said honoring three companies for saving lives in one year is highly unusual. Normally only one department has a life-saving event each year.

“It’s a credit to the fire service,” he said. “It’s very admirable.”

The firemen’s convention continues today in Louisville with a parade, chicken barbecue, firematics races, bounce house, live music and other activities open to the public.

The parade will kick off at 10 a.m. on Willard Road and conclude at Station 1/ Community Center. The Norwood Brass Firemen will play following the parade as well as the presentation of the parade awards and the installation of officers.

At 1 p.m., the firematics tournament will be held at the community center behind Station#1.

Food and beverages will be available for sale and a chicken BBQ will be held starting at 11 a.m. for $9 per person. Louisville firefighters said the meal includes half a chicken, salt potatoes, coleslaw and a roll. T-Shirts and beer mugs will be available for purchase at our beer tent. Rain date for the firematic drill is 9 a.m. Sunday.

Bed races are scheduled at the conclusion of the firematic drills on the track.

The evening will feature Six Foot Midget playing from 6-9 p.m., and a fireworks display, compliments of Majestic Fireworks, at 10 p.m.

Convention Chairman Andrew S. Fregoe said the events have so far been well attended. Many of the events have had twice as many attendants as organizers had predicted, he said.

“It’s far exceeded our expectations,” he said. “All the hotels are full.”

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