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Collins Center Fire Company holds installation dinner

EXECUTIVE GROUP — Honorable Fred Marshall is pictured, swearing in the Collins Center Fire Company’s executive board. Pictured, from left: Marshall, President Mark Halloran, Vice President Jeff Schneider, Treasurer Michelle Wypij, Secretary Doug Jensen and Sergeant-at-Arms Don Johnson. Photos courtesy of Joy Valentine-Johnson.
COLLINS CENTER — The Collins Center Fire Department installed one new officer for the year, during its annual installation of officers dinner held on Jan. 19.

The event was catered by Three Star Restaurant. Fred Haier of WSPQ 1330 AM acted as master of ceremonies.

According to Fire Chief Mike Finch, keeping things the same underscores the way the department has done business, during its existence. “We keep things pretty simple here; not [many] changes,” he said.

The fire department was founded in the late 1800s and has kept watch over its coverage area, since then. With 34 current members, half of whom are active, the department answers approximately 100 calls, annually.

The Collins Center Fire Company responded to 121 calls, during 2012, most of which were for medical issues. While fires are rare in Collins Center, Finch said that the department helped with a few, on mutual aid.

No new renovations or additions are planned for the Collins Center Fire Hall, but the department purchased a new pumper truck in September. That was the company’s first capital investment in 22 years.

I SOLEMNLY SWEAR — Honorable Fred Marshall is pictured, swearing in the fire company’s line officers. Pictured, from left: Marshall, Truck No. 3 Captain Rick Simmons, Truck No. 7 Captain Doug Jensen, Truck No. 5 Captain Mark Grimm, Fire Police Captain Paul Gernatt and EMS Captain Janice Jackson.
“A lot of people made that happen and we want to thank them for the support,” Finch said.

Finch, who joined the fire company in 1991, became chief in 1997, before relinquishing his title in 2008. He became chief again, in 2010.

The chief credited the company’s success to its ability to keep volunteers, a fact that he said many departments cannot claim. “A lot of departments have trouble attracting and retaining volunteers, because there is time investment most people don’t have,” he said.

The Collins Center Fire Company also has a junior fire company.

THE NEXT GENERATION — The Collins Center Junior Firefighter Executive Board was sworn in by Don Tharnish. Pictured, from left: Tharnish, President Jordan Jozak, Vice President Jared Wypij, Treasurer Brandon Johnson and Secretary Dylan Timmel.
According to its representatives the department is expecting to have 12 junior firefighters, ranging from 12 years to 19, by March. Finch called the youth element “critical,” because the junior firefighters help and organize fundraisers, throughout the year. “We’re thinking of bringing back the pancake breakfast fundraiser,” he said.

Other fundraisers include chicken barbecue events, door-to-door donations, a raffle and the annual fund drive, in May.

THE LINE OF DUTY — Honorable Fred Marshall is shown, swearing in the Collins Center Fire Company fire chiefs. Pictured, from left: Marshall, Chief Mike Finch, First Assistant Chief Ron Lillie, Second Assistant Chief Norm Johnson and Third Assistant Chief Ron Paluch.
The installations of the Collins Center Fire Company, Collins Center Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary and Collins Center junior firefighters officers were done by New York State Supreme Court Justice Hon. Fred Marshall.

The following list is of installed fire company officers. The only change from last year is Jeff Schneider, who is now vice president of administration for the department.

– Mark Halloran, president.

– Jeff Schneider, vice president.

– Michelle Wypij, treasurer.

– Doug Jensen, secretary.

– Don Johnson, sergeant-at-arms.

– Finch, chief.

– Ron Lillie, first assistant chief.

– Norm Johnson, second assistant chief.

– Ron Paluch, third assistant chief.

– Rick Simmons, truck captain.

– Mark Grimm, truck captain.

– Doug Jensen, truck captain for the fire company.

– Jordan Jozak, junior firefighters president.

A NOTED FIREFIGHTER — Rick Simmons (left, beside Chief Mike Finch) received the Firefighter of the Year Award. Later in the ceremony, Simmons received an award for his 25 years of service.
Simmons received the Firefighter of the Year Award. Finch said, “He’s been in the company longer than I have [and] has been a valuable member, since joining, in 1987. In fact, he’s one of our top 10 responders. He does just about anything he’s asked and works hard, at every function.”

Later in the ceremony, Simmons received an award, in recognition of his 25 years of service.

APPRECIATION — Erie County Legislator John Mills is pictured, thanking members of the Collins Center Fire Company for their dedication to the volunteer fire-rescue service.
The head table’s centerpiece, which is given away, each year, was presented to Janice Jackson, for her dedication to the company and for her work as the emergency medical services captain.

REPEAT AFTER ME — The Collins Center Ladies Auxiliary is sworn in. Pictured, from left: Honorable Fred Marshall, Ladies Auxiliary President Cindy Lillie, Secretary Janice Kief, Treasurer Stephanie Cieszynski and Vice President Stephanie Finch.
Deb Moritz received an award of appreciation for her years of dedication and service as president of the ladies auxiliary.

The Collins Center Fire Hall is located at 3514 Main St. in Collins Center. For more information, call 532-3300.
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