During the Feb. 4 Cazenovia Fire Department Annual Banquet at the Lincklaen House, influential volunteer members were recognized for their service to the company. Awards were given to the committed firefighters that have exhibited dependability and leadership during their time with the department. John Durfee was one of the members recognized for his dedication; the former Fire Chief received the Hook and Ladder Company’s Membership Award, which acknowledged his 50 years of service.
“This is just a great organization, and I’m very happy to have been a part of it for so long” Durfee said. “We’ve had a lot of good chiefs, a lot of good members and I’ve made a lot of good friends.”
Born and raised in Cazenovia, Durfee grew up on Fenner Street and was a student of the local school district. Upon graduating from Cazenovia High School in 1960, Durfee applied to fire department, but was initially turned away due to a full roster. Determined to become a volunteer member, he returned the next year, applied again and officially entered the ranks of the Cazenovia Fire Department in 1961.
Durfee started out as a Second Lieutenant and eventually worked his way up to the title of Fire Chief, which he served as from 1983 to 1985. He was once the President of the Cazenovia Fire Department’s Hook and Ladder Company, as well as the President of the Central New York Firemen’s Association, where he oversaw 27 fire departments in 20 counties.
In addition, Durfee became a member of the New York State Firemen’s Association and served as Chairman for the NYS Fire Chiefs Committee. Always interested in serving his hometown, he also held positions at the Cazenovia Central School District Department of Transportation; first as a bus driver in 1969, and then as Supervisor from 1976 until 2005 when he retired.
Incredibly proud to see the fire department continue to expand, Durfee thanked the current Cazenovia College students that volunteer their time to the department.
“We couldn’t do what we do without them. It’s unbelievable how much the training programs have changed,” Durfee said. “These guys are getting together every week, rescue training, completing ropes courses and practicing protocol. When our rescue squad started out in 1961, there were just six of us, we didn’t have as many opportunities to train as they do today. It’s great to see.”
Other developments that Durfee is happy to see, deal with the technological advancements with equipment and the expansion of the firehouse. “The equipment we have today is just phenomenal, compared to what we used to work with. It’s great to have all of our gear and vehicles in one building,” he said. “It was really tight when we were up in the Municipal Building at 90 Albany St. but it’s starting to get a little tight again. It’s nice that 6 Farnham Street was acquired. Parking has been a big issue.”
Having happily entered retirement, Durfee spends much of his time helping out at the department. Recovering from a previous back injury, he admitted that misses being so closely involved with the department but also confessed he has been enjoying camping more often, when weather permits.
The Cazenovia Fire Department is located at 127 Albany St. and can be reached at 655-2834. For more information on past and present chiefs, as well as volunteer members of the department, visit cazenoviafire.com.