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East Concord Fire Department honors many of its own, at installation dinner

RAISE YOUR RIGHT HAND — Judge Leslie Gibbin swears in the East Concord Fire Department executive officers and board of director trustees. Pictured are President Ronald Miller, Vice President James Zunner, Secretary Holly Baker, Treasurer Susan Wagner, Hap Bettinger, George DeWald, Robert Heim and Mark Wagner. Photos by Jessie Owen and Alyssa Moody.
“The past week has been very emotional, for everybody. When bombs were exploding in Boston, the first responders weren’t running away. They were running toward the explosions. It’s amazing, what you do for us.”

Concord Supervisor Gary Eppolito acknowledged all of the members of the East Concord Fire Department, for their service to the local community, drawing on images from recent events at the Boston Marathon, to demonstrate the importance of first responders.

During the ECFD installation of officers, held April 20, Eppolito and other speakers thanked the firefighters for putting themselves in harm’s way to protect the citizens they have sworn to serve.

SHE’S EARNED IT — Chief Matthew Willibey is pictured with the East Concord Fire Department’s firefighter of the year, Holly Baker.

This evening was held in memory of George Barthel, Robert Curfman, Robert Kuhl and Patricia Willibey.

The event took place in the ECFD Fire Hall and was catered by Three Star Catering. Members of the Chaffee-Sardinia, Springville, West Valley, Boston and Colden fire departments were on hand, to witness the swearing in of officers. They were joined by representatives from Erie County and North Collins Emergency Squad.

“In the 1700s, they called, ‘The redcoats are coming! The redcoats are coming!’” said Chief Matthew Willibey. “Now, they call, ‘The red shirts are coming.’”

I SOLEMNLY SWEAR — Judge Leslie Gibbin is pictured, swearing in the East Concord Fire Department firematic officers, Chief Matthew Willibey, First Assistant Mark Wagner, Second Assistant Nick Siminski, Third Assistant Michael Ahrens, Fire Police Captain Hap Bettinger, Captain Keith Ploetz, Truck Captain EC No. 1 James Willibey, Truck Captain EC No. 2 Wayne Henry, Truck Captain EC No. 3 Andrew Wagner, Truck Captain EC No. 5 Thomas Nunweiler and Truck Captain EC No. 8 Lori Ploetz. Photos by Jessie Owen and Alyssa Moody.

Willibey announced that his department had responded to 154 alarms, during 2012. A total of 4,154 man hours, including training, were recorded, by the fire department’s members. He thanked all of those who had provided mutual aid assistance to the department, throughout the year.

Truck Captain EC No. 8 Lori Ploetz was recognized, for raising more than $500 for the Relay for Life, through “Patty’s Daisies,” in memory of Patricia Willibey. The fire chief also announced that the department had donated 750 pounds of old gear overseas, for needy fire departments, through the 911 Fund.

The Explorers Post, which is sponsored by the ECFD, provides training for young residents of Concord. These individuals receive training in CPR, First Aid and more, and are eligible to join the department as junior members, when they turn 16. They also participate in community events and fundraisers.

YES, CHIEF — Pictured, from left: Second Assistant Nick Siminski, Third Assistant Michael Ahrens, First Assistant Mark Wagner and Chief Matthew Willibey.

This year’s Explorer recipient of the Brian Baker Scholarship, given out by the department, was Becca Jeffers.

New President Jordan Story explained that the Explorers Post 20, which has been an outreach of the ECFD for 21 years, is seeking to increase its membership. This year’s post members will be taking a trip to the fire museum in East Aurora.

Two individuals were recognized for their five-year service, one member was acknowledged for 10-year service, one for 25 and another for 30 years.

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The top 10 responders were announced, as follows: Third Assistant Michael Ahrens, with 220.2 hours, in 2012; Benjamin Slotman, with 206.5 hours; Walter Sum, with 183.9; Secretary Holly Baker, with 183.3; Second Assistant Nick Siminski, with 182.3; First Assistant Mark Wagner, with 172.7; Ploetz, with 165.8; Michael Brian, with 163.5; Board of Director Trustee Robert Heim, with 162.6 and Stacy Keller, with 159.5.

Baker was presented with the 2012 Firefighter of the Year Award. “If it’s something true to your heart, you will find time to do it,” Matthew Willibey said, about Baker’s commitment to the department and the other entities she serves.

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Nancy Ahrens presented Baker and her husband with a quilt, named “Remember,” which Ahrens created, in memory of the couple’s late son, Brian Baker.

Judge Leslie Gibbin swore in the firematic officers, including Willibey, Wagner, Siminski, Michael Ahrens, Fire Police Captain Hap Bettinger, Captain Keith Ploetz, Truck Captain EC No. 1 James Willibey, Truck Captain EC No. 2 Wayne Henry, Truck Captain EC No. 3 Andrew Wagner, Truck Captain EC No. 5 Thomas Nunweiler and Truck Captain EC No. 8 Ploetz.

Executive officers included President Ronald Miller, Vice President James Zunner, Secretary Holly Baker and Treasurer Susan Wagner.

Board of Director trustees included Hap Bettinger, George DeWald, Heim, Miller and Mark Wagner.

East Concord Explorers Post 20 officers taking their oaths were Story, Vice President Randy Darling and Secretary/Treasurer Justin Willibey.

Members of the East Concord Squad 10 include Nancy Ahrens, Diane Klinginsmith, Ginny Steff, Joyce DeWald and Carolyn Michalet.

“Where do we go from here?” Ploetz asked. “We will continue with drills and training, so we will be prepared to serve our community. Philippians 4:23: ‘The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.’”

The East Concord Fire Department is celebrating 60 years of community service.

For more information or, to get involved, call 592-4567 or visit the department, located at 9497 Genesee Road in East Concord.



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