2017 Award Winners: (l-r) Officer of the Year: Deputy EMS Chief John Bunnell; EMR of the year: Emergency Medical Responder Michael Kadis; Chief’s Awards: Public Relations Officer Sylvia Cancela & Fire Captain Joe Ouimette (not pictured); Firefighter of the Year: Fire Captain Steven Goeben.
The Town of Canton Volunteer Fire & EMS Department hosted an Awards Banquet at Avon Old Farms Hotel, to celebrate, acknowledge and honor their member’s service and accomplishments in 2017; a year of great change.
The following are highlights from this special evening:
Outgoing Department Chief Robbins:Being a member of this Department changes your life. I’m not talking about just the training and calls. Many of you have used your Department experiences or contacts to pursue a career. And, I’m betting a few of your close friends also came from here.
Tonight, let’s focus on those friendships and take a moment to reflect on the impact the Department has had on you and your families.
Interim Department Chief Wayne Goeben led the gathering in one of the most sacred fire service rituals, the Invocation of Remembrance; which commemorates the pride members take in serving the community, and acknowledges the ultimate sacrifice they may have to pay in the preservation of life and property.
This year’s Invocation was especially poignant because 2017 was the 30th anniversary of the line of duty death of Fire Police Arthur Vincent, who paid that ultimate price when he was stuck down on Route 44, by a drunk driver, during a Department practice drill.
Chief Goeben: Bless our membership and continue to grant them the strength, courage and humility to help those who are unable to help themselves.
Continuing with the theme of change, Chief Robbins also spoke of 2017’s refocused priority on recruitment of new members. Counter to the national trend, the Department actually experienced an influx of new members – in every Division.
Chief Robbins: In 2017, we accepted 15 new members. In addition, four previous members returned to our ranks.
Nineteen new members in 12 months is a real accomplishment, and every member of this Department helped get us there. Now, it’s up to all of us to make them feel welcome, and to share our experience to help prepare them to be successful. To make them a part of our family.
And then, it was time to recognize the ‘Best of the Best,’ which included a retired firefighter now in the EMS Division; a Fire Captain and a Deputy Chief, both of whom joined the Department as Cadets and now have careers in the fire and emergency medical services.
Firefighter of the Year – Fire Captain Steven Goeben.
EMR of the Year – Emergency Medical Responder Michael Kadis.
Officer of the Year – Assistant Chief of EMS John Bunnell.
Several other individuals were recognized for their contributions and achievements:
Retirements: Bill Arnone (33 years) and Dan Ege (23 years).
Chief’s Awards:PR Officer Sylvia Cancela and Fire Captain Joe Ouimette.
Training Awards: Firefighter Rob Weed for completion of Firefighter I Certification.
Top EMS Duty Hours: Deputy EMS Chief Ryan Kerr.
Top Fire Responder: Firefighter Leo LeBoeuf.
Years of Service: Firefighter Jeff Johnson (15 years); Safety Officer Richard Hutchings (40 years); Fire Police Donald Osden (45 years).
One final change was to come; the transition from outgoing Chief Robbins to incoming Chief Goeben:
Chief Robbins: As Assistant Fire Chief, Wayne Goeben has been my voice of reason and sounding board. He was instrumental in our recruiting efforts and has worked hard to keep our members engaged. I can’t think of a better person to lead those 19 new members and set them, and the rest of us, up for future success under his leadership.
Chief Goeben: I am proud, humbled and honored to be interim Chief of this Department. I fully expect that 2018/2019 will be another significant year of change; no less important than the merger of three individual fire departments into one Town Department; and our recent transition to a paramedic level EMS service. I thank Craig Robbins for his leadership and look forward to his continued service as a Canton volunteer firefighter.
The evening ended with a lively Raffle, presided over by Banquet MC, retired Department Safety Officer David Leff. The Raffle items were generously donated by: ABC Pizza, Avon Prime Meats, Bahre’s Wine & Spirits, Ben & Jerry’s of Canton, Cake Gypsy, Canton CITGO, Lisa’s Crown & Hammer Restaurant & Pub, Flatbread Company, LaSalle Market & Deli, NAPA Auto Parts, Premier Energy Company, Reno’s Drive-In, ShopRite of Canton, Wilson’s Pub and Wine & Liquor Warehouse. The Department also paid homage to each Division by contributing: a leather fire helmet; a stethoscope and leather boots; and a Fire Police jacket, to the Raffle.
A last word from Selectman Leslee Hill:
“I was honored to be invited to attend the Awards Banquet and celebrate the dedicated service of our volunteer fire and EMS personnel. Canton is extremely fortunate to have a dedicated group of volunteers who give untold hours in service to our community and surrounding towns. I hope the public will make a point of thanking these volunteers and supporting them in their efforts at every opportunity.”