The Saugerties Fire Department featured fire chief Scott Campbell, who has been in office for just one year, at its annual Chief’s Night on Saturday, April 29. At the ceremony, the department honors long-serving firefighters and recognizes the contributions of the various companies that make up the department. The officers of many of the departments that serve various areas in the Town of Saugerties also attend.
Fire chief Scott Campbell noted that the chiefs of several of the Town’s fire departments were present, and he thanked them for the mutual aid they have offered. He also thanked the mayor, the Village Board and the police chief for the help they have offered.
Mayor Bill Murphy said the firefighters’ dinner is one of his favorite events: a chance to meet with old friends and the people who keep us safe. “It’s amazing the way you guys work together.” He noted that he has always looked up to firefighters, though “I never had the guts to be one myself; I’ve always respected the work you guys and girls do.” In the 14 years that he has been mayor, he has seen many upgrades for the Fire Department, he said. “I’m very proud of what our Fire Department is today.” But his most important praise was for his members, he said. “They show up for calls, for drills, and they make my life easier, and it makes things go quicker and safer.”
Following the speeches, the main officers of the Village Fire Department were sworn in: second assistant chief Chris Wade, first assistant Chris Mason and chief Scott Campbell. Alex Horton, representing US representative Marc Molinaro, said that the congressman wanted to send his best wishes, although he could not attend in person. “On a personal note, I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for all the firemen who are here in the building tonight. As a lifelong resident of the Town of Saugerties, it is an honor to share this room with you all,” he said. “I want to thank you for putting your lives on the line every day for the community. You are business owners, mechanics, town employees and EMTs and civil servants. You are moms, dads, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters; and even more than that, you are all heroes.”
Horton noted that firefighters leave their jobs to answer calls or give up their leisure time. They train and work to be ready when needed. “We don’t appreciate you nearly enough until it is our burning house you are running into.” Firefighters have died fighting fires, and he said that the dinner was an excellent time to thank them.
Horton presented awards to firefighters for long service, starting with William “Boo” Schaefer, who has put in 70 years with the department. The honors included firefighters who had served 50 and 45 years.
“I’m really here, first and foremost, to say ‘Thank you,’” said State senator Michelle Hinchey. “You all represent the best of our community, the best of my community, and you truly are the backbone.” She recalled how exciting it was when a friend received a call and had to leave the class to come out and support the firehouse. “So, I have known how important what you do is.”
Pointing out that New York State does not have a finalized budget, Hinchey said that within the next few days, “barring anything crazy, we will get funding for our firehouses, and I believe we will have 25 million dollars from our capital fund for volunteer firefighters to help with equipment, firehouses or anything related, and I think it will be a game-changer. It is the first time in the history of our State that we’re getting funding straight to you.” She also had awards to hand out to long-serving firefighters.
Firefighters had comments for Hinchey as well: As she left the microphone, Jim Gage called out, “Your father and I were proud tin-can sailors.” The reference was to both having been Navy veterans who served aboard destroyers.
After another few awards, the program moved on to dinner.