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Defreestville Fire Department New Engine Dedication

By JEFFREY BELSCHWINDER, Senior Correspondent | November 04, 2021 | NEW YORK

Story No. 110521109

On November 4, 2021 the Defreestville Fire Department held their dedication ceremony for their new Sutphen Monarch Heavy Duty Pumper. The chief of the Defreestville Fire Department William Burkart introduce the guests for the evening: The Albert/Stehr family, The board of Fire commissioners for the North Greenbush Fire District, Chief Mark Mason of the Wynantskill Fire Department and Asst. Chief Dan Wilson, and Minister Bethany Popkes.

Chief Burkart told the crowd that the creation of this apparatus was a result of many hours of hard work. This apparatus was not just a one department effort, but a district effort and the members of the Defreestville Fire Department worked with members of the Wynantskill Fire Department as a first ever joint twin apparatus built and purchase by the North Greenbush Fire District in its history. The new Sutphen Monarch Heavy Duty Pumper replaced the departments 24 year old engine that had served the residents of the North Greenbush area well.

The fire department started their committee in early 2018 and by the end of 2019, the North Greenbush Fire District No.1. was able to work with Vander Molen Fire Apparatus and service of Ballston Lake, New York who currently has fire apparatus with some of the busiest departments in the capital region like Brunswick No.1 Fire District, City of Troy, City of Watervliet, City of Cohoes, Round Lake, Verdoy, and many more. The chief talked about the many meetings that had taken place, long nights, many phone calls, emails, which led to the apparatus being engineered and designed in mid 2019. After 18 months the new twin pumpers was delivered in June 2021. Members of the committee that work countless hours were: Chairman Richard French, Commissioner David Wilson, Chief William Burkart, Asst. Chief Brandon Galligan, Past Asst. Chief PJ Facteau and current Defreesville Fire Department President, Captain Phil Sheehan and from the Wynantskill Fire Department Asst. Chief Adam Littlefield, Captain John Carroll, Past Captain Ronnie Monroe, and Past Captain and Fire Commissioner Nick Scifo. With associated members involved with the 9-7 committee, Captain Dan Sheehan, Lieutenant Gary Wright, Past Asst. Chief Shane Clute, and Past Chief Ray Swart.

The Defreestville Fire Department in their pass when dedicating apparatus always had dedicated the apparatus for a group of people like the ladies auxiliary like this apparatus predecessor was, or the membership, but the department has never had a dedication of an apparatus in the memory to a specific person.The Defreestville Fire Department recognized that there are many people through our 75 years that deserves to be recognized this way, but one person came to mind and that individual was Bob Albert or better known as “Chooch”.

Bob “Chooch” Albert joined the Defreestville Fire Department on February 9, 1950 at the age of 24. He served many roles from president, vice president, secretary, financial secretary, and historian. He served in various firematic roles from Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, and held the rank of Asst. Chief for 12 years. Albert chaired two truck committees, one of them was the old Thebault E-67 which would be later known as 9–7. The Thebault was the first 9–7 in the departments history. Albert also shared both major duties with the chicken barbecues and calendar drives which provided the fire department for many years with the financial support to keep the department lights on and engines fueled and running.

Albert held eight of the high attendance awards during his time with the department and was awarded firefighter of the year in 1990. One of the biggest projects that Albert undertook and at the time goes unrecognized was being the departments historian. At one point a large chunk of the department history was lost when a large majority of the departments year books went missing from 1945 to the mid-1980s and there was a large gap in the department history, but Albert took it upon himself to restore the history of the department. Albert used his typewriter and began to type out the stories and history of the department from calls, carnival held by the fire department, firemans day at the Schaghticoke Fair, and major calls and events . The chief stated that 3/4 of the storage room in the station was filled with binders of his work. Thanks to Alberts dedication of restoring the departments history members that are joining the department to this day can read about the departments history.

Robert “Chooch” Albert embodied the spirit of a volunteer firefighter and was dedicated to serving his community and always able to lend a helping hand. The Chief William Burkart, stated “The person I remember the most is the man who would greet me walking in the station every monthly meeting. The man sitting at the poker table in the old fire station, playing poker for several hours with his friends. Always with a smile on his face and a handful of jokes printed from the computer. We still to this day don’t know who was slipping him the jokes as he didn’t like computers.” It is my pleasure and privilege that tonight we dedicate our new apparatus in his name and a plaque that will be placed on the side of the new engine in his memory.

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.