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Rensselaer Falls honors firefighters

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RENSSELAER FALLS – Family and friends of the Rensselaer Falls Volunteer Fire Department gathered Saturday to salute the achievements of each of its members both old and new.

There was plenty of family pride to go around as Chief Jeffery S. Hammond personally presented his son, Jeffery Jr., with a jacket in honor of one year serving the department, while Robert G. Poor, a 57-year member, helped Auxiliary Chief Tammy J. Cutler present an award for 50 years of service to his wife, auxiliary member Betty J. Poor.

“She held the office of chief back in 1955, and she has been our historian for the past 15 to 20 years,” Mrs. Cutler said of Mrs. Poor.

Mrs. Cutler also presented a $3,000 donation to the fire department. A $1,000 donation went to the Rescue Squad.

Emergency Medical Services Captain Scott Rivers lauded James Blackburn with the EMS Provider of the Year Award.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Mr. Blackburn said. “I know that I was approached several years ago to join the department. I was rather reserved about doing it because I was worried that it was going to take time away from my family. But I must say that has probably been one of the most rewarding things that I have ever done.”

Ernie Schwartsfigure received the 2012 Chief’s Award. Mr. Schwartsfigure first joined the department in 1978 after his father, Everett, and brother, Ivan, joined. But Mr. Schwartsfigure said his reasons for joining the department were all his own.

“I joined because I wanted to, because I cared,” Mr. Schwartsfigure said. “I like serving the community. It’s good to help out people when they need it. I have known some of these guys my whole life. It’s just good, tight family.”

Mr. Hammond praised Mr. Schwartsfigure’s work ethic.

“Ernie has been a part of the fire department since 1979,” Mr. Hammond said. “He is one of our senior pump operators. He is the kind of guy that you need something done, you can count on him.”

Mr. Hammond said the department’s 40 or so active members responded to approximately 50 fire calls and 100 rescue calls in 2012.

Kevin Poor, a third-generation firefighter, Tyler Dvornski, and Daniel Simmons also received one-year service jackets. Glenn Dibble reached 10 years of service and Dale Vanleuven achieved five years of service.

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