Prepared by staff
Photos by Lynn Zanardi
On Saturday, Nov. 12, members of the Youngstown Volunteer Fire Co., dressed in full uniform, alongside family and friends, celebrated 100 years of dedicated service.
"We made it!" said President Greg Robertson enthusiastically to the crowd of fire company members, Youngstown residents and friends. "Those men in the past did it for their families, and that is why we do it today."
It was an evening of presentations, proclamations and a sharing of memories once again, as YVFC gathered to close out its yearlong 100th anniversary of celebrations, highlights of which included the fire company's annual banquet and inductions in February, and its Field Days festivities in September.
State Sen. George Maziarz ensured those gathered that he is putting great effort toward the state budget concerning providing training funds for Youngstown. He voiced his gratitude, on behalf of the community, to fire company members for their dedication and service to others since the company was established 100 years ago.
"Today when you dial 911, it is a tragic time for you and your family, and the volunteer fire company is there for you ... just as I am here for you," Maziarz said.
Robertson presented Maziarz with a plaque for his efforts in securing a new automated external defibrillator machine for the fire company last year, and his continued support throughout the years.
State Assemblyman John Ceretto referred to the evening as the fire company's birthday party. Alongside his wife, Beth, Ceretto proudly stated his active membership with the Lewiston Volunteer Fire Co. No. 2 as he admired the table displays of photo albums and newspaper clippings honoring the YVFC.
Ceretto and Maziarz presented YVFC with a joint citation from the New York Senate and Assembly thanking the past and present members. Also in attendance were District 1 Niagara County Legislator Clyde Burmaster and District 10 Legislator Dave Godfrey, who both presented a Niagara County citation.
YVFC member Brian Muller was honored for his 50 years of service to the community, devotion to duty and exemplary leadership. YVFC Chief Eric Wieland and Robertson were presented with the century award, signed by Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour.
Village of Youngstown Mayor Raleigh Reynolds read a proclamation prepared earlier by late Mayor Neil Riordan. It stated, "For Youngstown, 2011 is a special year for celebration ... YVFC answered dangerous duty siren calls without benefits or pay ... we should thank them everyday."
Town of Niagara Police Chief James Suitor, a YVFC member in the 1980s, recalled skipping high school classes to respond to fire calls. "A lot of good men got us to where we are today: older and much wiser men in the company that inspired me to go into public service," he said.
Suitor reminisced about how his father and past YVFC member Mr. Smay had planned the current building location and how it used to be a skating rink, and before that, a bowling alley. He ended on a heartfelt note as he said, "This is a fantastic fire company."
The evening concluded a successful celebration in honor of the hard work and dedication that the volunteer fire company and auxiliary members have contributed to their community over past 100 years, and which they continue to provide every day.