Canastota firefighter Tim Mitchell said his father inspired him to become a volunteer. Carl Mitchell was a member of the Chittenango Fire Department and past assistant chief, and Tim wanted to help out in his own community.
Mitchell joined the Canastota Fire Department when he was 20 years old and has continued his service to the community for more than 28 years. He's has been selected by the department to receive the Canastota Area Association of Churches firefighter award. He, along with other volunteers will be honored at the Annual Appreciation Dinner held at the Rusty Rail on Jan. 17.
Although more training is required and many more safety standards have been mandated within the modern era of fire and rescue personnel, life saving is still life saving. Mitchell has seen many changes since he began with the department, mostly how the equipment is built and used, he said. It's all about safety.
"Like riding on the back of the truck," Mitchell said. "When I started we used to be able to do that."
Mitchell has been trained to use all of the department's equipment. He's been trained in essential firefighting and initial fire attack. He's also been trained in two hazardous materials courses, as a pump operator and in automobile extrication. He's served the department as vice president, president, secretary, first lieutenant, captain, second assistant chief, first assistant chief and chief. Becoming fire chief has been one of his most rewarding experiences with the department, second to saving lives. And as rescues go, the outcome isn't always positive. Mitchell remembers a multiple fatal motor vehicle accident on the Thruway that was a difficult situation.
"I remember the young boy was no bigger than my son," Mitchell said. The boy died of his injuries. He said it doesn't matter if you know the person or not, it's still hard.