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Saluting the volunteers

Water rescue recognized at Westfield Fireman Ceremony

August 9, 2017
By Jordan Patterson - editorial@westfieldrepublican.com , Westfield Republican

Almost a year and a half later, Dewittville firefighters Burl Swanson and Furlough Francis were recognized for their brave efforts last March.

March 8, 2016, was cold. It would've been much colder if not for Swanson, Francis and local bystanders who called 911. After receiving the call, two ice fishermen - Jim Moore and Mike Cooney - had fallen into the ice on Chautauqua Lake. Dewittville first responders arrived quickly and saved the lives of Moore and Cooney.

"There's a fine line between success and failure, isn't there?" Assemblymen Andy Goodell said Friday while addressing those gathering inside the auditorium at Westfield Academy. "Burl and Furlough did a phenomenal job, great job guys."

Article Photos

Photo by Jordan Patterson
109th Annual Convention Southwestern Association of Volunteer Fireman. Dewittville firefighters take the stage as Burl Swanson and Furlough Francis are awarded Firefighters of the Year.

While congratulating the pair of firefighters, Goodell, R-Jamestown, wanted to emphasize that they wouldn't been able to perform the way they did without the proper equipment and training and shifted focus to continue the support of firefighters in Chautauqua County.

The efforts that were made by Swanson, Francis and the entire Dewittville first responders saved two lives, Goodell said.

Training. That's what Swanson pointed to when receiving his award Friday. He remembered his fellow firefighter Francis training hard prior to the March 2017 incident and said his training is what rescued Moore and Cooney that day.

"I just want to say thank you, this is what we train for and that's what we do every day," Francis said. "Hopefully we don't have to do it again but we're ready if we do."

The 109th annual Southwestern Association of Volunteer Fireman Convention featured various awards, and among them were Swanson and Francis as "Firemen of the Year."

A surprise at the ceremony was when Julius Leone, county director of Emergency Services, was awarded the President's Award by Marsha Holland, president of the Southwestern Association.

"This is a total surprise," Leone said. "It's been a great journey and I'm looking forward to the future."

Other awards included "Outstanding Service Awards," received by Larry Nagel of West Valley for 59 years of service; Donald Kraft of Vigilant, who was recognized for his work with the fire police; Theodore C. Marsala of Westfield, for 41-49 years of service; Chuck Phetteplace of Machias for 31-40 years of service; Michael Parish, of West Valley for 21-30 years of service; Michael Emhof Jr. of Lake Erie Beach for 11-20 years of service; and Michael Rosen of Randolph for 1-10 years of service.

Scholarships were handed out to prospective students that will be attending college in the fall.

Lyle Holland, former President, said that these events are good to finally recognize the hard work that the fire fighters put in every day of the year.

"We need good publicity," Holland said. "Firemen aren't great at blowing their own horns."

Holland explained that firemen do great things but no one knows because it doesn't get publicized as much as it should. The ceremony serves as their way to tell local communities and the world what they do.

"This is what happens every day, as we sit here and stand here brothers and sisters are saving people," Swanson said. "This is what we do. Thank you."

 
 
 

 

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