On Friday, April 29th, 2011 the Westwood Fire Company celebrated another successful year at our 64th Annual Banquet.
This year's banquet, which highlights our 2010 operating year, was held at the Coatesville Country Club.
All of our active crew members, bingo helpers, social members, neighboring fire company Chiefs, Township Supervisors, and several special guests were invited to attend in appreciation for all that our members and friends do to keep the fire company operating throughout the year.
The banquet began at 6PM with an hour of hors d'oeuvres and socializing, with dinner and our welcoming introductions starting at 7PM.
President Amer welcomed all in attendance and thanked everyone for coming, and led everyone in a salute to the flag followed by a prayer by Valley Township Supervisor Arlin Yoder. Everyone was then dismissed by table by DJ Cory Huth for a buffet style dinner.
As dinner was concluding, it was time to begin the banquet presentations and awards ceremonies. First, our special guests were introduced. President Amer welcomed our administrative guests while Past Chief Scott introduced our neighboring Fire Company officers. Chief McWilliams then introduced the neighboring EMS Officers.
Past Fire Chief Scott was then introduced to present the 2010 Firefighter awards. Lieutenant Zwick and Firefighter Gorba were each presented with the 2010 3rd Place Firefighter of the Year Award. Firefighter/EMT Kerrigan was presented with the 2010 2nd Place Firefighter of the Year Award. Deputy Chief Deckman was honored as the 2010 1st Place Firefighter of the Year. Chief McWilliams was presented with the 2010 Driver of the Year award. Junior Firefighter Taylor was presented with the 2010 Junior Firefighter of the Year award.
Past Chief Scott also presented the 2010 Fire Police Officer of the Year awards. Second place Fire Police Officer of the Year 2010 was presented to Fire Police Lieutenant Jim Pilotti. 2011 Fire Police Captain Dave Leary was honored as the 1st Place Fire Police Officer of the Year 2010.
The next presentation was the Chester A. Taylor Fire Chief's Award. This award will be presented annually to a Firefighter who exemplifies the spirit of a volunteer in their relentless commitment to the Fire Company and the Community. The 2010 award was presented to Past Fire Chief Wayne Criswell. Chief Criswell has been a member of the Fire Company since 1976 and has served in many operational roles including Fire Chief, Assistant Fire Chief, Rescue Captain, Fire Captain, and Lieutenant. Chief Criswell served as Fire Chief of the Westwood Fire Company from 1989-1990. Chief Criswell has long been looked up to by many members of the Fire Company for his experience in fire and most especially rescue operations. Chief Criswell takes great pride in Rescue 44 and maintains the equipment each week to ensure operational cleanliness and readiness. For his dedication to the Company, he received the honor of the this award.
Past Chief Scott presented a 15 minute slideshow highlighting the fire service career of Chief Criswell; including photographs and numerous newspaper articles showing various fires and accident scenes that Chief Criswell has responded to and collected in his personal scrapbook for decades.
A special award presented each year is the Joseph Sweigart Memorial Award, also known as our President's Award. Joe was our longtime President who served the Fire Company for many years. Each year, one member of the Fire Company will be chosen to receive this award in memory of Joe. He or she who is chosen is someone in the Company who goes above and beyond the call of duty on a daily basis, provides dedicated service to the Company and Community, and advances the Fire Company to new levels as we progress into the future.
This year, the award was presented to Life Member Mabel McCoy. Mrs. McCoy has served faithfully on our Bingo Committee working every Tuesday and Saturday night for more than 40 years to ensure that our bingo fundraising continues to support the Fire Company. Mrs. McCoy's family has been involved in the Fire Company for decades; including her late brothers as Past President and Trustees, her late husband working on our Bingo Committee, and her daughter continuing to support our Bingo fundraisers. Throughout more than half of the history of the Westwood Fire Company's existence, Mrs. McCoy has been there serving as an auxiliary member and Bingo fundraiser.
2010 EMS Chief McWilliams was then called upon to present the 2010 EMS awards. The 2010 3rd Place EMS Provider of the Year was Matt Carr. The 2010 2nd Place EMS Provider of the Year was presented to Deputy EMS Chief Lisa Jo Ranck. EMS Lieutenant McGinn was honored as the 2010 1st Place EMS Provider of the Year. EMS Lieutenant McGinn responded to 269 EMS calls for service in 2010, showing an unbelievable amount of dedication to the EMS Division and the community.
Chief McWilliams also highlighted several recent accomplishments by the Fire Company, including the implementation of career staff to support our volunteer personnel during daytime weekday hours.
Following the awards presentations, Past Chief Sly announced that the Fire Company received a 2010 Federal SAFER Grant for volunteer retention over the next four years. This grant will provide for an incentive program for personnel who are the top responders over the next four years to receive reimbursements for fuel usage and other financial assistance. Chief Sly made note that so far in 2011, the Fire Company has received $81,861.08 in grant funding. Chief Sly also made mention that EMS Chief McWilliams, while not receiving an award as the Chief, responded to more EMS calls than any other member; 287 in 2010.
The presentations were wrapped up for the evening and the microphone was turned over to Fire Police Lieutenant Pilotti and EMS Lieutenant Devine for door prize distribution.
Dancing and more socializing then commenced with music from the DJ throughout the evening.
Every attendee was presented with this year's banquet gifts; a Westwood Fire Company travel mug and a Westwood EMS keychain lanyard.
We would like to thank all of our guests, friends, Township Supervisors, and members for all their help and support throughout the year, as well as all of those who graciously donated gifts to our members. The Westwood Fire Company completed our final year as the only full time 100% volunteer Fire, Rescue, and Ambulance service in Chester County thanks to our dedicated personnel.
We would like to recognize our friends at the Gordonville Fire Company in Lancaster Count for standing by at our station throughout the evening to provide protection to our community while we celebrated at the banquet. The crew responded to one fire alarm in Valley Township in the evening. Additionally, our neighbors at the Sadsburyville Fire Company supplied a crew to respond to all calls during the banquet as well.
Once again, a very special thank you to Photographer Mary Ann "Photodog" Kyte for the great pictures!