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Waddington Fire Dept. honors its members

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WADDINGTON – Saturday evening was all about family—inside and outside of the fire hall—at the Waddington Fire Department’s annual banquet held at American Legion Post 420.

“I am proud of all the members,” Chief James S. Armstrong said. “It’s an honor to work with them. We’re a family. When it comes time to answer a call, we all put our lives in each others’ hands. I know my life is safe with the members I have.”

At the banquest, firefighters gathered with their families to look back on the past year. In 2012, firefighters traveled over 532 miles to answer a total of 53 emergency calls, a decrease of 17 from 2011.

“It looks like all the work we do in fire prevention has paid off,” Mr. Armstrong said. “The most important thing is we had no injuries. It was a great year.”

It was a great year in other ways, also, Mr. Armstrong continued. Through savings and fundraisers, the department was able to purchase a used 1997 equipment truck from Perry, NY. One of the many new benefits of the truck is air pack storage, something firefighters didn’t have before, Mr. Armstrong said.

“Before we had to rely on mutual aid or filling back up at the station,” Mr. Armstrong said.

In August, members dedicated a monument to retired members with over 10 years of service. Michael Badlam, who organized the monument, was honored with one of the three Chief’s Awards handed out at the ceremony. The Chief’s Awards were chosen by the chief and his two assistants: First Assistant Andrew Losey and Second Assistant Dustin Haenal.

“Mike was a past chief and has over twenty years of active service,” Mr. Armstrong said. “He guides the younger members with his years of experience. He did a great job on the memorial. He got a committee together in February and did a lot of work on it to make sure it was finished for Waddington’s Homecoming in August.”

Another Chief’s Award went to Patrick Ruddy.

“Though he is retired, he spends most of the time at the fire hall,” Mr. Armstrong said. “He has many years in the department and still enjoys serving. He does a lot of the behind the scenes work.”

The third Chief’s Award went to Jason Brown, who has served over five years with the department.

“Jason spends as much time at the hall as the fire trucks do,” Mr. Armstrong said. “He does a lot of the work for me that I don’t have time to do. If you have something that has to be done, you call him first and you know it will get done.”

The night’s top honor, Firefighter of the Year, went to George LaFleur, who has served over 35 years in the department.

“About 90 percent of the calls, he’s the first truck out the door,” Mr. Armstrong said. “He’s our main pump operator. He’s not afraid to spend hours out there drafting and showing new members how to run the pump. He’s a great asset to the team. It’s not too many times that front engine runs out the door and he’s not in the driver seat. If I am at a structure fire and I see George on the pump, I know we’re good.”

Mr. LaFleur said he was humbled by the honor.

“I served with many of your fathers,” he said. “It’s nice to see so many of their children in the department, and I am glad to serve with you all.”

The evening ended honoring the families of firefighters.

“I would like to thank all the family members of all of our volunteer members,” Mr. Armstrong said. “With all of our calls, the average amount of time spent on calls every day is about three hours. That’s a lot of time away from family. Thank you for all of your support.”

Years of service awards went to the following:

Five years of service awards went to Jason Brown, Kenny Chambers, Richard Murray, and Tammy Rogers.

The 10 years of service award went to David Odendahl.

Twenty years of service awards went to Michael Badlam, David Reynolds, and Gary Morgan.

The 35 years of service went to George LaFleur.

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