2009 Fire Convention honors community contribution, personal sacrifice

NEW BERLIN – Firefighters from all across Chenango County came together in the Village of New Berlin Friday night to honor past members and the achievements of those still involved in the fire service.

Before attending the annual 2009 Chenango County Firemen’s Convention banquet, open to all 21 fire departments in Chenango, more than 100 firefighters and their families attended a memorial service at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.

Following the ceremony, the New Berlin Fire Department hosted the convention’s banquet at its fire station and honored members for their lifetime achievements and named the fireman of the year.

“We are glad to be here tonight. We are here to recognize your service and the sacrifices you’ve all made in keeping our communities safe,” said New Berlin Volunteer Fire Chief Shawn Patrick.

“We are here tonight not to simply honor the fire bureau; we are here tonight to honor each one of you,” remarked former New Berlin Fire Chief George Hanslmaier to the crowd of EMS and fire service members, nearly all of them volunteers.

Chenango County Fire Coordinator Matthew L. Beckwith addressed the crowd updating the current state of the Chenango County Bureau of Fire. Following Beckwith’s remarks, the four candidates for Chenango County Fireman of the Year were announced: Ken Strong of Afton Fire Department, Joe Eggleston of the Greene Fire Department, Ronald Beckwith of the Pharsalia Fire Department and Ray Baldwin of the Oxford Fire Department. All together, the four men represent over a century’s worth of experience in local fire service.

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