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Syracuse lauds hero firefighters in Olcott

by jmaloni

Press release

Fri, Mar 1st 2013 11:10 pm
Family and friends paused to recognize the lifetimes of sacrifices of two recently deceased Olcott Fire Co. volunteers at recent ceremonies. Being honored posthumously are firefighters Joe McKernan and Egbert `Brud` Hamminga, who died earlier this year after completing 65 years of service to the fire company and their neighbors. Honoring the pair are, from left, Town Councilman Gordie Fletcher, Bob Pettit, Ann McKernan, Mark McKernan, Cortland McKernan, Stacie McKernan, Jeanette Hamminga, Ann Hamminga, Kathleen Hamminga Hambruch, Olcott Fire Chief Steve Miller, County Legislator John Syracuse and Town Councilman Marcus Hall.
Family and friends paused to recognize the lifetimes of sacrifices of two recently deceased Olcott Fire Co. volunteers at recent ceremonies. Being honored posthumously are firefighters Joe McKernan and Egbert "Brud" Hamminga, who died earlier this year after completing 65 years of service to the fire company and their neighbors. Honoring the pair are, from left, Town Councilman Gordie Fletcher, Bob Pettit, Ann McKernan, Mark McKernan, Cortland McKernan, Stacie McKernan, Jeanette Hamminga, Ann Hamminga, Kathleen Hamminga Hambruch, Olcott Fire Chief Steve Miller, County Legislator John Syracuse and Town Councilman Marcus Hall.
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by Christian W. Peck

Public Information Officer

Niagara County Public Information Office

Niagara County Legislator John Syracuse joined Newfane town officials and state representatives in honoring four Olcott volunteer firefighters for their heroic rescue of the passengers of a boat that sank in Lake Ontario during last year's Independence Day holiday.

The seven passengers - two adults and five children - entered 100 feet of water more than a half-mile offshore when their 16-foot motorboat sank near the AES Power Plant. Rescuers utilized GPS coordinates provided by a victim's mobile phone to locate the group, and brought them to safety within minutes.

The four heroes were recently honored at a ceremony at the Olcott Fire Co., as were several long-time volunteers for their years of service. The four rescuers included Fire Chief Steve Miller, Assistant Chief Scott Gunby, and firefighters Rhonda Kreiger and Bob Dierolf.

"Steve, Scott, Rhonda and Bob are the kind of citizens we've come to rely on in our small towns along the lakeshore," Syracuse said after presenting citations for bravery to the group. "These are doers, not talkers. They are willing to put their lives on the line for their neighbors and for total strangers, and they never take even a dollar in pay."

Syracuse and town officials also presented posthumous citations honoring firefighters that had would have been recognized for 65 years service to the Olcott Fire Co., but died earlier this year.

Honored were Joe McKernan and Egbert "Brud" Hamminga.

"When you realize that Joe McKernan and Brud Hamminga spent their entire adult lives protecting their neighbors' homes and lives, you realize that these were really special men," Syracuse said. "I'm proud to have represented them and prouder still that they were my neighbors."

Also presenting citations with Syracuse were Newfane councilmen Marcus Hall and Gordie Fletcher.

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