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Orange Firefighters Honor a Century and Half of Service

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March 23, 2023 | CONNECTICUT DOUG FENICHEL, Correspondent
This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

ORANGE, CT - Firefighters honored seven members who have given a total of 145 years of service to the town and celebrated the rescue of one firefighter by another. The tributes came at the recent annual meeting of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department. 

In addition to the length-of-service awards, firefighters and guests heard the fire chief’s annual report, a greeting from town officials and shared other information. The event was held at the Grassy Hill Country Club on March 14th.

Fire Chief Vaughan Dumas said the department responded to 695 calls in 2022. That’s up from 681 calls in 2021. And while the total number of runs, including actual fires, was up, false alarms were down.

Dumas said the department remains financially stable and accomplished several important goals during 2022. A new pumper was put in service at the department’s Boston Post Road station that reinforces the department’s capabilities while using greener technology than previous trucks. The department also continues to improve its radio technology, a move that also creates a back-up system for the Police Department.

Goals for 2023 include additional station improvements, continued work toward a new fire station to replace the Orange Center Road facility, and working on specifications for a new tower truck. Dumas also said the department is preparing for its 100th Anniversary celebration in 2025. Part of that celebration will be hosting the Connecticut State Firefighters Convention.

Dumas made special mention of firefighters’ families, noting the sacrifices they make to allow their family members to volunteer. And he praised the department’s partner agencies, especially the fire marshal’s office, police department and citizen’s emergency response team (CERT). He thanked the Orange Economic Development Commission for continuing to support OVFD through its annual golf tournament. 

In other reports, Jillian Gagel, president of the OVFD Auxiliary, reported that the auxiliary was back to doing all of its fund-raising events. Money raised by the auxiliary helped pay for portable radios, air packs and turnout gear. This year, she announced, the auxiliary was able to give a record amount of money to the department.

Selectwoman Judy Williams thanked the firefighters on behalf of the town government. She spoke about the importance of volunteerism, especially in a small town

“You do it because you enjoy it,” she said. “You do it because you want to give back. You deserve the recognition.”

Dumas and Williams recognized firefighters for their length of service. They were:

-Past Assistant Chief Michael Esposito – 30 years

-Firefighter Steven Douglas – 30 years

-Firefighter Scott Reichbart – 25 years

-Firefighter Dan Johnson – 20 years

-Fire Chief Vaughan Dumas – 20 years

-Lt. Dan Abrams – 10 years

-Assistant Chief Eric Auscavitch – 10 years

Reichbart was also recognized for a rescue he was involved in several years ago. Dumas said the rescue wasn’t reported until recently. Reichbart and Firefighter John Rossi were overhauling a room after a structure fire. That involves pulling down ceilings and checking behind walls to make sure there’s no fire still burning anywhere. The floor under Rossi collapsed and Rossi started falling into the basement. He caught himself on the edge of the hole.  Despite the knowledge that the floor near the hole was compromised, Reichbart crawled to the edge of the hole and pulled Rossi out of the hole, preventing him from falling into the still-hot rubble in the basement. For his actions, Reichbart received an award of merit.

Two other groups of firefighters received awards for special work in 2022. Lt. Vaughan Dumas Jr. and Firefighter Will Clemens were honored for refurbishing a fire engine. Capt. Dave Tufano, Lt. Dan Abrams, Lt. Eric Demeraski and Lt. Dumas were recognized for special training sessions they created at buildings in town that were due to be demolished. More than 750 hours of training, including specialized training about rescuing firefighters, were conducted at one of those sites.

Treasurer Bert Gallant and Firefighter Peter Goodwin, together, were named Firefighter of the Year.  Assistant Chief Dan Cole was named officer of the year in a special recognition for work he has done with personnel operations, the 100th anniversary and other achievements. 

The department also named Marsha Addil and Patricia Abrams as honorary members because of the support they and their late spouses have shown the department over the years.

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DOUG FENICHELCorrespondent

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