BETHLEHEM — Service men and women of the year were honored by each of the fire districts, the Delmar-Bethlehem EMS and Bethlehem Police Department at an annual event.
On Monday, March 6, all groups gathered at the Nathaniel Blanchard American Legion Hall in Delmar to honor the individuals chosen as police officer, EMT and fireman of the year of each fire district, as chosen by the chiefs of each organization.
In a break from tradition, this year Bethlehem Police Chief Lou Corsi chose to recognize the entire agency as a whole “for their continued dedication and professionalism”
“Twenty-fifteen was a challenging year with numerous officers out on job related injuries, which put additional demands on the department to maintain public safety service in the Town of Bethlehem. Our members have pulled together in an unprecedented way to accomplish our mission. My heartfelt thanks to each member for their service,” said Corsi.
“We are honoring Elwin McNamara for lifetime work of service in the Town of Bethlehem,” said Steve Kroll, director of Delmar-Bethlehem EMS. “He was one of the very first paramedics in the Town of Bethlehem. He has been a member for many, many years, and spent many years in different leadership positions and served an integral role in the merger of the two EMS services,” which ocured last year.
Delmar Fire Department
Michael E. Gervais, a lieutenant with the Delmar Fire Department and a member since April of 2001, is this year’s Man of the Year for the Delmar Fire Department.
Gervais’ was chosen for the award based on number of calls responded to, as well as his long career in the department and enthusiastic demeanor, said his department chief.
“I really like to support my town like the action,” said Gervais. “Every call is important to me. Maybe it’s a friend or someone I don’t know, but they will be friend tomorrow.” Some days Gervais responds to six calls a day, mostly during drive time traffic, from 3 to 6 p.m. Most days have fewer, but Gervais said it’s usually at least a few calls a week that he will respond to. This has garnered him one of the highest response records in the department throughout the past year – a testament to his love for the department.
“I call Delmar Fire Department my second family,” he said. “We may all be different ages, at different stages, but when that fire bell goes off, we’re all like glue – we’re a total team.”
Gervais himself is 56, “but I act like I’m 40,” he said with a laugh. Other fire fighters in the 70-person department are as young as 18. “I’ll be here ‘til they have to drag me out,” he added.
Elsmere Fire Department
Michael Taylor received the Fireman of the Year Award for the Elsmere Fire Department. Taylor joined the department in 1970, and served as treasurer, vice president and director. He is the eldest of three generations of active members in the Elsmere Fire Company, as his son Steven and grandson Andrew also serves.
“My family and I moved into Alden court in 1970 when there were only six families directly involved with fire department. It was exciting. Now having years of service, I look at it as more of a safety thing, keeping an eye on people. With firefighters, there’s always someone looking out for you,” said Taylor.
Elmwood/North Bethlehem Fire Department
Frank DeCerce, a recently passed Vietnam veteran, was chosen as man of the year for the Elmwood/ North Bethlehem Fire Department. “He was one of commissioners that head been part of the department forever and passed away in January,” Chris Fuino, fire chief. “It was a huge loss for the department. He was one of the first to respond to the the Ayre family fire,” which occurred last month and left the six-member family hospitalized in critical condition for weeks. DeCerce’s family accepted the award on his on behalf. Frank DeCerce had been with department for over 30 years.
Selkirk Fire Department
Bill Collins, a local lawyer, was chosen as the Selkirk Fire Department’s Man of the Year.
“He joined at very late age and became quickly involved,” Chief of Selkirk Fire Department Bill Asprion. “Over the last year he’s show himself to be a leader and hard worker with independence in all situations. He attended our stair climb for cystic fibrosis has just worked very, very hard.”