As has been a tradition for more than 30 years, the Clintondale Fire Department hosted their annual Installation Dinner February 29 at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel.
Chief Rick Brooks said this gathering for his crew, “gives them a sense of validation, recognition, a pat on the back and they get a night out. They get to bring their spouses whether it be husband, wife or family, and it’s something they can all do together.”
Brooks said the dinner is also a time to set the agenda for the coming year and present numerous awards to his crew.
Brooks said he has 23 active firefighters in his department, of which 16 are interior certified. He said his district runs from the east side of Rocking Horse Ranch over to Ardonia, to just north of Apple Greens Golf Course and down on South Street.
Firefighter and Social Officer Treasurer Patti Brooks said they cover the towns of Plattekill and Lloyd and the school districts of New Paltz, Marlboro, Highland and Wallkill.
Rick Brooks said the backup they receive from their neighboring Fire Departments is “incredible.”
“Every time we get a serious incident, Highland and Modena are dispatched with us,” he said. Patti said this happens immediately, and there is secondary support if the fire event is significant, which often includes the Lloyd and Plattekill Police, Mobile Life Support Services, NYS Troopers and the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office.
Brooks said they do a number of social events throughout the year, such as a boat cruise in the fall, a bonfire and a party at a member’s house.
“We try to keep the interest in the camaraderie together,” he said.
To help increase their numbers, Brooks said Clintondale will be hosting a Membership Drive this year.
“I think in the fire service there is a place for everybody. You don’t have to be somebody who runs into a burning building; you can be that person handling the paperwork back at the firehouse or directing traffic or dragging hose or equipment at an incident,” he said.
Brooks said the company also has a Junior Membership Program, starting at 16 with the permission of a parent. At 18 the individual can officially join the department. He said they have a number of “elder statesman” in the department, with some having served for 40 and 50 years and still drivers or assist in other ways.
“They have the wisdom and tell the younger people what they’re looking at in a fire situation,” he said.
Ulster County Fire Coordinator Everett Erichsen presented Robert Martine with a 50 year pin for his dedicated service to the department.
This year the coveted Firefighter of the Year Award went to two individuals – Mary Raffa and Gary Palmateer. Brooks said this is the most prestigious award the department hands out and this year, instead of one individual, the department saw fit to honor these two firefighters.
“What goes into it is showing the commitment to the profession of volunteer firefighting, showing the commitment to your fellow firefighters in the fire department and then showing the initiative to follow through in training and the initiative to teach other people what you know and what you’ve learned; that’s the fabric of the fire department. If you have people who are doing that, your fire department is going to succeed.”
Brooks presented a Red Shield to Rachael Robinson, Erik Goslar, Melissa Leon and Gary Palmateer to signify their, “stepping out of the realm of a probationary or external firefighter to an internal firefighter.”
Brooks presented Jeremy Nash, Chris Raffa, Deanna Mackey and Caitlin Shoureck with Certificates of Appreciation for their service to the department.
Brooks gave a special thank you to Plattekill Highway Superintendent Bobby Wager for keeping the roadways clear in inclement weather that allows the department quick access to a fire or emergency scene.
Awards were also given for answering the most number of calls and most number of drills: Melissa Leon, Sherri Mackey, Brandon Palmateer, Jeremy Nash, Chris Raffa, Rick Raffa and Meghan Shoureck.
Brooks honored William Mackey for his five years of service and for 25 years of service: Patti Brooks, Rick Raffa, Jeremy Nash and Chris Raffa.
The Chief’s Recognition Award was given to Deanna Mackey, Caitlin Shoureck, Jeremy Nash and Mickey Palozzo.
The President’s Award went to Meghan Shoureck for her, “outstanding dedication, commitment and teamwork to the Clintondale Fire Department.”
Retired Plattekill Town Clerk Barbara Dawes swore in the Clintondale Fire Departments Officers for 2020: Rick Brooks as Chief; Sherri Mackey, Department President; Kate Jonietz, Auxiliary President; Chris Raffa, 1st Assistant Chief; Brandon Palmateer, 2nd Assistant Chief; Jack Lunsford, Captain; Vinny Scacciaferro, Captain; Deanna Mackey, Lieutenant; Mary Raffa, Captain Fire Police; Melissa Leon, EMS Officer; Patti Brooks, Department Treasurer; Meghan Shoureck, Department Vice President; Megan Jonietz, Treasurer Auxiliary and Jill Poluzzi, Vice President Auxiliary.