Robert Fellows of DeRuyter saved a friend's life. The 15-year-old's deed did not escape the attention of DeRuyter Fire Department personnel. Fellows was named Citizen of the Year Award at the Madison County Volunteer Firemen's Association & Firemen's Auxiliary annual banquet May 9 on the strength of the department's nomination.
Emcee James McFadden of the North Brookfield Fire Department said Fellows had a friend visiting and heard her screaming from another room. She had reached across a table and her blouse came into contact with a candle burning there.
"It caught her shirt on fire," McFadden said. "He grabbed a blanket, smothered the flames and called 911."
The girl suffered first-, second- and third-degree burns, McFadden said, but is recovering from her injuries thanks to Fellows' heroic actions.
Sen. David Valesky (D -- Oneida) also presented Fellows with a certificate for his actions in saving his friend's life.
Pat Haley of Cazenovia received the Ladies' Auxiliary Award for her longtime and extensive involvement in support of fire department activities.
The Fire Service Achievement Award went to Edwin B. Coon, whom McFadden described as a cool, level-headed professional who has served on numerous DeRuyter Fire Department committees and coordinated various activities.
In addition, Coon, a farmer, drives school bus and serves as president of the local farmers' cooperative. He also serves on the DeRuyter Town Council.
Chittenango Fire Chief Michael Sudol presented a Special Recognition Award to James Dutcher of Dutcher Auto Salvaging in Morrisville. Sudol said Dutcher is an unsung hero in local fire education, providing vehicles and space at his recycling yard for firefighters to practice using pneumatic tools in extracting victims from wrecked vehicles.
"I known I'm preaching to the choir, but fire service training has changed over the years, and training opportunities can be difficult to coordinate, especially for extrication," Sudol said. "Extrication skills are very important to rescue operations in Madison County."
Dutcher said he was overwhelmed by the recognition.
"It's you guys who are doing the work and deserve the recognition," Dutcher said, "so thank you."