The Camillus Fire Department has had a lot to celebrate this year. The department marked its 100th anniversary this summer, was selected to host the Onondaga County Volunteer Fireman Association's annual convention, is enjoying newly-restored relationships with neighboring departments and has big plans to reduce the apparatus fleet to save residents money and improve fire service.
But the department was dealt an untimely, unexpected blow on July 31 when 40-year CFD member Robert "Moe" Havranko passed away at age 61.
Just two weeks ago, Moe's name was in the news for a different reason, when he was awarded the OCVFA Red Jacket Award.
The night Moe was awarded the Red Jacket, CFD President Jesse Norcross emphasized the importance of the award in that recipients were nominated by their department to receive it. There was no magic number of years or calls tallied to make a firefighter eligible; the only way to be awarded the Red Jacket was to be recognized by one's fellow firefighters for exceptional service and commitment.
And if anyone deserved to be recognized for that, it was Moe.
Outside Camillus Village Hall Wednesday morning, past chief Mike McBride waited with a group of CFD and Taunton Fire Department members to salute Moe's funeral procession as it passed beneath the extended ladders of the two department's trucks.
The location was fitting, as Moe had retired from Camillus Cutlery after 30 years of employment.
"He was a servant - he served in the military, he served his family and he served his community," McBride said. He described him as honest and a strong individual who was "there for the right reasons."
"It didn't matter to him who was in charge," McBride said.
Chief Scott Binns credits Moe with his membership to the CFD.
"I came to Camillus in 1992, and I didn't know anybody," Binns said. "Moe was the first one to take me under his wing. He was a big part of me getting involved. At that point, not knowing anybody, I was contemplating not continuing in the fire service. He befriended me right off the bat, and now I'm at almost 24 years in the department."