Dan Hust | Democrat
JEFFERSONVILLE FIREFIGHTER SHAWN Sennett, left, is congratulated by SCVFA President (now Immediate Past President) James Buck as he receives a standing ovation from the crowd Sunday after earning the Firefighter of the Year Award.
Firefighters lauded for selfless bravery
By Dan Hust
NEVERSINK Celebrating 50 years of top-notch fire service to Sullivan County apparently is no easy feat.
Organizers of the 50th Annual Past Presidents’ Dinner of the Sullivan County Volunteer Firefighters’ Association (SCVFA) faced more than a few obstacles in pulling it off, from a dining location to the inevitable alarm callouts in the midst of eating.
But on Sunday, hundreds of local firefighters, family members and supporters did indeed gather inside the new community hall at the Neversink Firehouse to honor not only past SCVFA presidents but celebrate the achievements of up-and-coming firefighters.
“Thank you to all of you who perform that very extraordinary service to the county,” remarked County Manager David Fanslau, the guest speaker and member of a family of dedicated emergency responders in southern New Jersey.
Jeffersonville firefighter Shawn Sennett received the SCVFA’s highest honor, the Firefighter of the Year Award, for rescuing a comrade from injury or even death.
According to Chief David Bodenstein, Sennett was responding to a trailer fire last year when the roof collapsed underneath his partner.
Sennett pulled his brother firefighter out of the flaming hole and into safety an act that impressed the SCVFA and the applauding crowd Sunday evening.
Receiving honorable mention was Michael Schapiro of the Hurleyville Fire Department, who rescued two hypothermic victims of a car crash last November.
According to Chief James Kaufman, a taxicab slid off an icy road and into a stream, overturning onto its roof and trapping two people inside.
Schapiro quickly removed the first occupant but had to clamber into the cab on his stomach to retrieve the second person all before the rest of the fire department and ambulance crews arrived on the scene.
A Fire Service Achievement Award was also handed out that evening to Wurtsboro firefighter Terrance “Terry” Mullen a fixture of many fire service ceremonies.
His bagpipes (and talent with the instrument) have become noted and anticipated features of events both celebratory and somber.
“I believe that this service is outstanding and appreciated by all members of the Sullivan County fire departments,” wrote Sullivan County Fire Coordinator Dick Martinkovic in his letter of recommendation.
Outgoing SCVFA President and Livingston Manor firefighter James Buck, who was later succeeded by Don Sherwood of the Swan Lake FD, thanked everyone for coming and for supporting the fire service.
His closing comments echoed a thought well-known by those who commit their time and risk their lives alongside other volunteers:
“For me,” Buck explained, “this association has forged friendships that I will cherish for a lifetime.”