Reverend Leon Frison was recognized for his contributions to the fire company and his continued spiritual leadership of our membership.
Vice president Michael Carey was recognized as Administrative Officer of the Year!
Past President & Past Chief Jeff Thompson presents Edwin "Smoke" Joiner (left) with a special Certificate of Recognition. Earlier this year, Smoke was inducted into the Maryland State Firemen's Association "Hall of Fame", the Eastern Shore Fireman's Association "Hall of Fame" and the Delmarva Fireman's Association "Hall of Fame".
Long-time member Walter R. "Ring" Strong was recognized for his 60 years of continuous service.
Firefighter Shawn Rideout was recognized as the 2019 "Firefighter of the Year".
Captain Renny Grapes was recognized as the 2019 "Officer of the Year".
Chief John Darling presents Firefighter James "Jimmy" Swindell with his Black Helmet as Jimmy's wife, Amanda, looks on. Unless they have previous firefighting experience, when a member requesting "Active Firefighter" status joins the Chestertown VFC, they are designated as probationary. Probationary Firefighters are identified as those wearing a yellow helmet. It communicates to all this firefighter is still in training, learning to be a firefighter.
Elevation in rank is contingent upon successful completion of Firefigher I training, provided by the Maryland Fire & Rescue Institute, University of Maryland. When a member graduates from Firefighter I, they are promoted to full firefighter within the Chestertown VFC. They exchange their yellow helmet for a black one, which shows they have satisfied the challenging and demanding requirements to be a firefighter. This milestone always demands some ceremony, and is usually accomplished during a company level business meeting. In Jimmy's case, the timing was perfect, allowing us the opportunity to present his black helmet with very public ceremony.
It should be noted, Jimmy and Amanda are expecting twins, due in 2020. They are not alone in this distinction. Assistant Chief / Vice President Mike Carey and his wife Stephanie are also expecting twins in 2020. Stephanie is the daughter of David Thompson, Chestertown VFC Life Member.
We are look forward to the healthy arrival of these children. Looking towards the future, we optimistically hope they will follow their family roots into the volunteer fire service.
The 2020 Administrative Officers...
Seated, L-R: Donald Hodges, Sr. (Board Director), Ms. Teresa M.I. Schaefer, PhD (Board Director), Betsy Douglas (Asst. Chaplain), James B. (Brad) Russum (Board Director)
2nd Row, L-R: Larry Slagle (Parliamentarian), Steve Bilinski ( 1st Vice President), John Darling (Chief), Dave Eason, Sr. (President), Claude Joyner, III (Board Director), Michael Carey (2nd Vice President), Bill Hildebrand (Asst. Treasurer & Board Director), Jeff Thompson (Board Director), Reverend Leon Frison (Chaplain)
3rd Row, L-R: Susan Joyner (Asst. Secretary), Cindy Morris (Secretary), Henrietta Maloney (Treasurer)
The 2020 Fire Suppression Officers...
1st Row, L-R: John Darling (Chief), James B. Russum (Deputy Chief), Renny Grapes (Captain), Greg Rhodes (Lieutenant), Jeff Thompson (Public Information Officer & Safety Officer)
2nd Row, L-R: Claude Joyner, III (Assistant Chief), Michael Carey (Assistant Chief), Brandon McGinnis (Assistant Chief), Steve Bilinski (Lieutenant)
On behalf of the officers and members of the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company, President Dave Eason presented a "Citizen of the Year" citation to Michael Heffron. Mr Heffron is a retired firefighter from Pennsylvania.
On August 20 of this year, one of our members, Brooke Shaw, was involved in a horrible accident on Maryland 213 near Vansants Corner Road, south of Galena. Her vehicle had been struck head-on by another vehicle which had crossed the center-line. As a result of the crash, Brooke was pinned in her vehicle, which had subsequently caught fire. She was also suffering severe injuries as a result of the collision.
Mr. Heffron, who relocated to Kent County after retirement, was on the way home and just happened to be right there immediately after the crash. He swung into action to rescue Brooke. With the vehicle burning, he struggled to make access to her as the doors were jammed. With the assistance of an unidentified Hispanic male, he was able to get in. He laments not getting this gentleman's name. Without his assistance, Mr. Heffron says the success of the effort would have been doubtful.
Literally with seconds to spare, Mr. Heffron extricated Brooke and moved her away from the burning vehicle. He stayed with her, reassuring her and treating her injuries with the limited resources he had available. Once help arrived, he turned over care to paramedics. Brooke was subsequently airlifted to a trauma center in Baltimore.
As a direct result of Mr. Heffron's efforts, Brooke survived and has returned to her family, husband Mark and two small children... both boys. She has also returned to her fire company family and friends, who continue to provide assistance and support. Brooke's story has been nothing short of remarkable.
With lingering effects of the crash, she continues to heal and improve every day. We wish her the very best of luck and good fortune. We're also eternally grateful to Mr. Heffron. Without his timely presence and calm, level-headed efforts, the final outcome would contain a completely different ending. We're also thankful for the unidentified gentleman who helped. As mentioned, it's doubtful Mr. Heffron could have completed the rescue without help.
In this photograph, as Brooke Shaw looks on, Michael Heffron talks about the dramatic events of August 20, 2019. The presentation concluded with Michael and Brooke engaging in an emotional embrace, which affected everyone in the room. A standing ovation ensued.