by Ray Pauley
Grand Island Fire Company Public Information Officer
New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan administered the oaths of office to newly elected Grand Island Fire Co. officers on Saturday, Jan. 14, at fire headquarters, 2275 Baseline Road.
Both firematic and administrative officers were sworn to uphold their community protection duties. Ryan was joined by state, county and town officials, other special guests and family members in praising the 24-7 emergency response commitment of these GIFC volunteers who represent our special "hometown heroes" that we all have come to depend on so much.
Ryan also congratulated GIFC Board of Directors Chairman Greg Butcher, who was recently appointed to the position of deputy commissioner of civil defense and disaster preparedness by Erie County Executive Mark Polancarz.
It was noted that Kevin Koch begins his second term as fire chief and will be joined by Deputy Chief Matt Osinski; First Assistant Chief Chris Soluri; Second Assistant Chief Mark Sadkowski; fire captains Ed Krecisz, Shawn Kephart and Omar Sortino; Fire Police Capt. Don Portik; and EMS captains Jon Cinelli and Jeremy Pullano.
President Tammy Gorman will be assisted by Vice President Don Turner III, Line Secretary Tony Mastantuono and Recording Secretary Laurie Berry. Reed Wright was returned to the board of review, and Robert "Butch" Meyer will continue to serve as Benevolent Association trustee. Dave Khreis was returned to the position of sergeant at arms.
Nicole Gerber is serving as financial secretary. Communications Supervisor Steve Morgan holds the position of treasurer.
Dave Tolejko was returned to another three-year term on the board of directors, while Jeremy Pullano begins his first term.
Ladies Auxiliary President Nicole Butcher introduced her 2012 officers as follows: Vice President Julie Meyer, Secretary Heidi Sue McCormick, Treasurer Danielle Soluri, Sergeant at Arms Teddy Linenfelser, Chaplain Mary Becker and trustees Nancy Amato, Darcy Golde and Barbara Wilson.
Chief Koch presented special commendations to firefighters and medics Rich Pelham, Lance Kohn, Dale Mock, Steve LaMarco, Saed Shafie and John Podlucky for successfully resuscitating an individual in full cardiac arrest on July 27, 2011.
Koch also commended Butcher, Chuck Berlinger, Mark Sadkowski, Tony Mastantuono and Dave Dombrowski for "setting aside their personal lives" to assist flood victims in Schoharie, N.Y., on Aug. 28, 2011, in the aftermath of hurricane flooding in that region.
Sortino received a Training Excellence Award for his exceptional training contributions throughout 2011, which included his participation in 44 drills and response to more than 300 emergency incidents.
In addition, Sortino and Mastantuono were commended for their invaluable training efforts in implementing a mandatory safety escape system for all interior firefighters.
Top 10 responders for 2011 were led by Ray Pauley with 740 calls. Others in sequential order are Rick Pelham, Pete McMahon, Skip Mrkall, Butcher, Sadkowski, Koch, Pete Coppola, Jourdain Benoit and Dan Mathes.
Benoit also received a special President's Award for his outstanding administrative assistance, which extended well beyond normal duties.
New recruits who completed intensive 2011 rookie training requirements are Mathes, Ryan Mock, Tim Krecisz and Scott Shaw.