Firefighter heroes, lifetime achievers recognized

STOCKPORT—Stuyvesant firefighter Daniel VanAllen was named 2017 Firefighter of the Year for his heroism in rescuing two injured women from a burning car.

The award was presented to Mr. VanAllen during ceremonies at the 2017 Columbia County Firefighters Association (CCVFA) annual convention the weekend of July 27 through 29.

Held in Stockport, the 92nd annual convention recognized several of Columbia County’s bravest. The Columbia County Firefighter of the Year, along with honorable mentions were awarded. In its inaugural year, the Lifetime Firefighter Achievement Award was given, along with honorable mentions.

Several firefighters were recognized for a variety of reasons, from heroic acts to complete dedication to their communities and for a lifetime of unparalleled community service.

On the night of December 2, 2016, Firefighter of the Year VanAllen was driving home when he came upon a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of State Route 9 and County Route 28 in Kinderhook. One of the vehicles was on fire and two victims were inside it yelling for help.

Without regard for his own life and safety, Mr. VanAllen forced both the driver- and passenger-side doors open and carried the occupants to safety before the vehicle became engulfed in flames. Mr. VanAllen used a passerby’s cell phone to call 911 while still caring for the women until EMS arrived.

According to a press release, if “not for Firefighter VanAllen’s quick thinking and valiant efforts to rescue the injured women from the burning vehicle, this incident could have been a tragic loss. This courageous act of heroism is a true example of the volunteer firefighter.”

Firefighter of the Year awards went to (l-r): Honorable Mention Philmont Fire Chief Mark Beaumont, Firefighter of the Year Stuyvesant firefighter Daniel VanAllen, Honorable Mention Hudson firefighters Jason Detzel and Connor O’Neil. Photo by Lance Wheeler

Nominated by his own fire company, Philmont Volunteer Fire Company #1 Chief Mark Beaumont was presented with an Honorable Mention Award for Firefighter of the Year.

Chief Beaumont, joined the Philmont Fire Department in 1999 after transferring from the Hudson Fire Department. He quickly rose through the ranks and was elected chief in April 2013. Recognized for his overall commitment to the fire department and the Village, Chief Beaumont has overseen the securing of multiple grants for financial support, fundraising and the FD Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP), a pension-like program intended to help recruit and retain volunteer firefighters. He was the driving force behind establishing and rejuvenating the Philmont EMS program.

Hudson Firefighters Connor O’Neill and Jason Detzel received Firefighter of the Year Honorable Mention Awards for their efforts to safely rescue a trapped pregnant mother and her daughter from the second floor of a burning building at 18 Worth Avenue, Hudson, April 11, 2016 at 11:30 p.m.

Firefighters O’Neill and Detzel deployed a ground ladder to the second floor under the command of Chiefs James Schermerhorn and Shawn Hoffman. Columbia County is lucky to have such a dedicated group of volunteers willing to go above and beyond to place themselves in danger in order to save others, the release said.

The 2017 Columbia County Volunteer Firefighters Association Inaugural Lifetime Firefighter Achievement Award was presented to Chief David E. “Chappie” Chapman of Chatham.

Mr. Chapman has an unparalleled body of work in the fire service which began April 1, 1963 at the age of 19 when he joined Chatham’s Sanford W. Smith Hook and Ladder Company. His indefatigable service continues to this day.

Characterized in the release as “an intelligent, patient and caring man, with a sharp-as-a-tack wit, infectious laugh, coupled with an indomitable spirit and spunk,” Mr. Chapman “has never shied away from work” as evidenced by his body of collective work.

To this day, he continues to selflessly serve as a seasoned veteran who is a master teacher and friend to all, no matter your station or rank. He has an arm’s-length resume dedicated exclusively to the fire service in addition to all his civic achievements,” said the release.

Columbia County Volunteer Firefighters Association Lifetime Firefighter Achievement Awards went to (l-r): Honorable Mention Chief James Briscoe, Stottville; Lifetime Achievement Winner Chief David Chapman, Chatham and Honorable Mention Chief James Potts, Sr., Clermont. Photo by Lance Wheeler

A Lifetime Firefighter Achievement Honorable Mention Award was given to Chief James Potts, Sr., (ret.) who joined the Clermont Fire Company in 1956. He attained the rank of assistant chief in 1968 until 1983 when he was elected fire chief for five more years.

In 1991 Chief Potts became a fire company director and has maintained that responsibility for the past 26 years. Mr. Potts was first elected as a delegate to the CCVFA in 1965 and continues to serve as a delegate for his company. In 1999 he was instrumental in bringing the convention to Clermont for the first time. In 2016 Chief Potts celebrated 60 years of fire service to the Clermont community, a feat that is not often accomplished.

Also receiving a Lifetime Firefighter Achievement Honorable Mention Award Chief James Briscoe of the Stottville Fire Company.

Chief Briscoe (ret.) began his fire service in 1954 when he joined the Claverack Fire Company. In 1955 he transferred and continued his service in Stottville where he continues to

serve this day. Chief Briscoe has held various ranks in the fire department, and has served as fire chief of the Stottville Fire Company for 30 years. In 1963 Chief Briscoe joined the ranks of the Fire Coordinator’s Office where he served as deputy fire coordinator from 1963 to 1976. He was appointed Columbia County Fire Coordinator from 1976 to 1984.

Chief Briscoe’s other lifetime achievements include: Fire Advisory Board 1976 to present, EMT for 25 years, Greenport Rescue Squad Board of Directors, NYS Association of Fire chiefs since 1963, Columbia County Fire Chiefs Association secretary for 20 years. Most recently Mr. Briscoe has served as a fire commissioner to the Stockport Board of Fire Commissioners, fire company trustee and is the current fire company president. Mr. Briscoe continues to serve as an active firefighter and truck operator.

Joining the CCVFA at the convention to honor firefighters were Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell, Columbia County Fire Coordinator William Hunt, Retired Fire Coordinator John Howe, Deputy Fire Coordinator Joseph Loeffler, CCVFA President Michael Cesternino, Vice President and FFOY Committee Chairwoman Laura Foster and the entire CCVFA board of directors.

The Firefighter of the Year committee along with CCVFA Past President Michael Cesternino, newly-minted President Laura Foster and Committee spokesman Eric Barnes congratulate all of the honorees and winners.

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