SMETHPORT — "Firefighters define courage," said Kyle Day in remarks prepared for the Smethport Fire Department's 135th annual Appreciation Dinner on Saturday evening at the firehall.
"It's easy to sit back and criticize, but the public must be appreciative of the volunteers in emergency services,” said Day, who has an extensive career in law enforcement before joining the Smethport Borough Police Department about a year and a-half ago.
"As a borough policeman, I'm fortunate to respond on many calls and see these volunteers perform their duties," Day said. "There aren't many people who leave their jobs and go into harm's way to help complete strangers."
Day mentioned that volunteer firefighters take tragedies personally, often rehashing incidents over and over long after the incidents.
Then directing his comments to the department's fire police, Day referred to their key role in assisting law enforcement agencies in various ways, saying, "These volunteers are on the scene, whether it's 30 degrees below zero or in the pouring rain."
As one who isn't a department member, Day spoke for many when he commented, "We're very grateful for your service. When our community hears the siren and see the trucks go by, we pray for your safe return."
Day also lauded the role of emergency service personnel's families for "allowing
us to do our jobs. Their support and sacrifice are priceless.”
A native of South Williamsport, Day was a junior fireman at 14, emergency medical technician at 16 and received his Act 120 training for municipal police officers through Indiana University Of Pennsylvania at Lock Haven.
During his career, he has been a part-time officer in Montgomery Borough and chief of Porter Township, both in Lycoming County, and Austin Borough departments.
Ken Mostyn, who worked in emergency services in McKean County before accepting a position of emergency management specialist with the Western Region of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency in Indiana, served as master of ceremonies for the program.
Mostyn introduced the following county officials: Commissioner Carol Duffy, Prothonotary Laura Isadore and Emergency Services Director Andrew Johnson.
Fire chiefs also in attendance were Lenny Taylor, Hilltop; Dan Burkhouse, Bradford Township; Todd Burkhouse, Rew; Bill Gallup, Norwich Township; and Dan Gustafson, Mount Jewett.
Department president Greg Rounsville introduced his officers: Charlie Jones, vice president; Jim Neely, secretary; Bob Dunn, treasurer; and Vern Ritts, Carl Smith and Roy Burt, trustees.
Chief Steve Field recognized his line officers: Wayne Foltz, deputy chief; Tom Field, assistant chief; Neely, captain; Jeff Young, first lieutenant; and Mike Hook, second lieutenant.
Fire Police Captain Dunn introduced his officers: Rounsville, lieutenant; and Perry Tanner, Sr., sergeant.
This year's award winners were as follows: One year — John Tanner, Karl Rinamon and Tanya Tanner; 10 years — Perry Tanner Sr., and Neely; 15 years — Dana Spittler, Rounsville, Josh Rounsville and Dave Keesler; 25 years — Roger Van Gorder; 40 years — Scott Herzog; Auxiliary members — Bonnie and Tom Brown; 20 years — Scott Sanderson, Pat Mitchell and Tom Cunningham; 30 years — John Jones; 35 years — Young and Karl Fitzsimmons.
Fire Police Awards: Dunn, Chuck Daniels, Perry Tanner Sr., Greg Rounsville, John Tanner, Bud Carlson, Perry Tanner Jr., Keesler and Ed Hairston; Top Ten Call Runners: Scott Herzog, Spittler, Tom Field, Young, Neely Steve Field, Rinamon, Smith and Foltz and P.J. Houpl; Harold Bell Award: Herzog; W.D. Farrell Training Award: Rinamon; and life memberships: Mitchell and Cunningham.