by Ray Pauley
Public Information Officer
Grand Island Fire Co.
Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard administered the oaths of office to newly elected Grand Island Fire Co. officers on Saturday, Jan. 12, at fire headquarters, 2275 Baseline Road.
Both firematic and administrative officers were sworn to uphold their 2013 community protection duties. Howard was joined by Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick, New York State Assemblyman John Ceretto; representative of New York State Sen. Mark Grisanti, Ron Descenes; Grand Island town officials, including Mary Cooke, other special guests and family members in praising the selfless dedication of these GIFC volunteers.
Board of directors Chairman Greg Butcher noted that Howard's distinguished law enforcement career involved considerable interaction and support of the fire service.
It was noted that Kevin Koch begins his third term as fire chief and will be joined by Deputy Chief Matt Osinski, Assistant Chief Chris Soluri, Assistant Chief Mark Sadkowski, fire captains Shawn Kephart, Omar Sortino, John Podlucky, Fire Police Capt. Don Portik, and Emergency Medical Services captains Jon Cinelli and Jeremy Pullano.
President Tammy Gorman will be assisted by Vice President Dale Mock, Secretary Edith Racz, Line Secretary Laurie Berry, Financial Secretary Nicole Gerber, Treasurer Anthony Mastantuono, and Sergeant-at-Arms Dave Khreis. Gerber was re-elected to the board of review.
Past Chief Pete McMahon, as well as Pete Sukmanowki, were both elected to three-year terms on the board of directors.
Nicole Butcher, president of the Ladies Auxiliary, introduced her officers: vice president, Julie Meyer; secretary, Heidi McCormick; treasurer, Nancy Amato; sergeant-at-arms, Elain Clark; chaplain, Teddy Linenfelser; trustees, Mary Becker, Darcy Golde and Barbara Wilson.
A special Chiefs Award was presented to Robert "Butch" Meyer for his 49 years of active service, during which he held several prestigious firematic and administrative positions.
Don Portik received the Presidents Award because he is "always there to lend a hand" when there is extra work to be done and truly exemplifies the meaning of the word "volunteer," stressed Gorman.
Four individuals - Jourdain Benoit, Dan Mathes, Sean O'Donnell and Ambria Tim - were also singled out for their extra effort in covering many GIFC public relations events within the community, in addition to their regular duties.
Five rookie firefighters also completed an extensive training program during 2012 and are now attending weekly EMT classes while responding to emergency incidents, etc. Rich Nichols, Sean O'Donnell, Dan Olszewski, Ambria Tim and Kristina Waz are those successful recruits. Tim was designated Rookie of the Year for outstanding individual achievements. Tim is not only a full-time college student, but managed to attend 43 drills, New York State Firefighter 1, New York State Firefighter Assist and Search Team class, and New York State firefighter survival courses, totaling 263 hours of training during 2012.
Koch was also pleased to announce that four new paramedics - Rob Cieri, Scott McMormick, Adrian Pilliod and Don Turner - have been added to a lifesaving program that was initiated 33 years ago in 1979 under the direction of Ed Rayhill, M.D.
Additional EMS commendations were presented to Skip Mrkall for an Jan. 27 carbon monoxide poisoning rescue, successful cardiac resuscitation by Pete Coppola, Tim Krecisz, Saed Shafie and Rob Soluri on Feb. 25, and a similar advanced life support intervention by Jourdain Benoit, Mike Braun, Nicole Gerber, Rich Nichols, Rob Soluri and Pete Sukmanowski on March 2, 2012.
"Top 10" responders for 2012 were again led by Ray Pauley with 842 calls. Others in sequential order are Rich Pelham, Skip Mrkall, Kevin Koch, Mark Sadkowski, Chris Soluri, Pete Coppola, Jourdain Benoit, Dan Mathes and Matt Osinski.