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Lawrenceville Fire Chief named county Fireman of the Year


By TIM FENSTER LAWRENCEVILLE - Lawrenceville volunteer firefighter John LaShomb Jr. doesn’t know where their department would be without his father, Chief John LaShomb Sr.

From securing grant funding for new vehicles to personally repairing damaged fire equipment to organizing a parnership with neighboring fire departments, the list of what John LaShomb Sr. has done for the department just goes on and on.

In recognition of all he’s done in 46 years of service with the Lawrenceville Fire Department, Chief John LaShomb Sr. was selected by the St. Lawrence County Fire Chief’s Association as the Fireman of the Year. The honor was announced at a ceremony Thursday evening at the Lawrenceville Fire Hall, and he will officially receive the award at a ceremony sometime in late March of early April, with the date of that ceremony to be determined.

“He’s always inspired greatness in others. This place wouldn’t be what it was without him,” said John LaShomb Jr., who wrote the letter recommending his father as the Fireman of the Year.

Stephen J. Beatty, an emergency medical technician, described John LaShomb Sr. as someone who encourages everyone to do their part to help. He said there can be a lot of anxiety when responding to a call, and sometimes volunteers aren’t sure which actions are needed. But John LaShomb Sr. encourages everyone to do whatever they can that they think will help.

“His number one rule is just you can’t do anything wrong,” Mr. Beatty said. “He always allows someone to do something (to help respond to a call). He never yells.”

Mr. Beatty noted that in addition to being fire chief John LaShomb Sr. is a trained emergency medical technician.

John LaShomb Sr. joined the Lawrenceville Fire Department as a volunteer in 1966 and has served as the department’s chief for the past 24 years. In that time he helped establish a program that sends out alerts to all volunteers of the fire departments in Lawrenceville, North Lawrence and Nicholville. This has increased the number of first responders in Lawrenceville from 27 to approximately 80, Mr. Beatty said.

He also has written three large grants, totaling more than $500,000, which allowed the department to purchase a modern frontline engine and tanker truck. These new vehicles were used to replace a 1957-model engine and an old tanker that was converted from a milk-truck.

When asked how useful the new trucks have been to the department, John LaShomb Jr. said he “couldn’t put a value on that.”

Before writing the grants, John LaShomb Sr. was known for repairing anything that went wrong with the trucks. He has a home shop nicknamed “John’s Machine Shop,” in which he manufactured spare or replacement parts that kept the aging engines running. “He’s the handiest person I know,” First Assistant Chief Richard LaBier Jr. said.

“He taught me everything I know,” Mr. LaBier added. “He taught me how to be an assistant chief.”

Recently John LaShomb Sr. took it on himself to drive to Syracuse to pick up new fire hoses for one the fire engines.

“There’s nothing he won’t do for the department,” Mr. Beatty said.

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