Sullivan County Democrat
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Democrat Photo by Ed Townsend

FEATURED SPEAKERS AT Sunday’s dedication of the new Liberty Fire Department firehouse on Sprague Avenue included, from the left, Fire Commissioner Fred Willi, Liberty Elks Exalted Ruler Victor VonKampen, NYS Governor’s Representative Ron Hicks, Liberty Supervisor and County Fire Coordinator Richard Martinkovic and Liberty Fire Chief Joseph Maxwell.

A Solemn But Happy Day

By Ed Townsend
LIBERTY — October 26, 2001 – The dedication cermonies for the new $1.8 million Liberty Fire Department’s Sprague Avenue firehouse brought back solemn reminders of the tragic events September 11 at the World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York City.
Whether they are a volunteer firefighter or paid firemen (as were those who lost their lives September 11), the strong firematics brotherhood was evident Sunday afternoon in Liberty as the ceremonies’ official program stated, “We, the members of the Liberty Fire Department, extend our heartfelt sympathy to all the families and friends whose loved ones fell victim to the tragic events of September 11, 2001.”
As he led firefighters and guests in prayer, Rabbi Marvin H. Goldman of Congregation Ahavath Israel in Liberty said, “Lord, we ask thy blessings upon our beloved sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and dear ones who at this hour, and the years to come, will stand guard in this sacred place, devoted to the preservation of life and security in our community, and shield them from every danger and disease.”
Rabbi Goldman prayed that “when they leave this sacred place to do their duty, grant that they return safely to here, to their families and loved ones.
“And for those who did not return, those who perished on September 11, those who never questioned when they ran into the valley of death, they have all made the supreme sacrifice. To Americans of all creeds and races, their untimely death leaves an empty space in the ranks of our nation,” Rabbi Goldman prayed.
He asked that “their names ever be reverently linked with America’s and mankind’s immortals.”
Liberty Elks Exalted Ruler Victor VonKaempen presented a new flag to the department, and he and Liberty Fire Department Chief Joseph Maxwell helped raise the flag while everyone joined in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ron Hicks, representing Gov. Pataki’s office, reminded the firefighters that “what you do is the ultimate sacrifice.” He then read the Firemen’s Prayer.
Chief Maxwell presented Certificates of Merit from Senator John Bonacic to 50 Liberty firemen in recognition of meritorious service in saving some 280 people in last year’s Paramount Hotel fire.
Ceremonial remarks were also made by Chief Maxwell by Liberty Town Supervisor and Sullivan County Fire Coordinator Richard Martinkovic, who introduced various dignitaries, and Fire Commissioner Fred Willi, who noted that the new Liberty Fire District was first formed in July 1996 and in 1998 the process was started for construction of the new firehouse.
Construction took place from September 1999 to August of this year.
Appreciation was also expressed by the fire commissioners, officers and members of the fire department to the taxpayers of the district “for their generous support in providing the J.C. Young Hose Company No. 1, the Hose & Truck Company No. 2 and the Ontario Hose Company No. 3 with this splendid building.”
The building itself is of fireproof construction, split-face block on the apparatus side of the buildings and wood-frame construction with block facier on the administrative-meeting side of the building. The truck room (apparatus side) has seven bays and in-floor heating tubes, along with a ventilation system for exhaust, a veranda which is used as the chief’s room, storage, an air system, a radio area and a mechanical room for repairs. A large social community room is available for weddings and private events, and each department has their own meeting room on the second floor above the social hall.

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