May 01, 2009 Ami Olson Uncategorized
It is a big year for the Marcellus Fire Department, Inc.
Not only will the department celebrate its 125th anniversary on May 1, the department will become independent this year.
Chief Randy Pilot said the department was village-owned until 2006, when they began the process of becoming independent. Since then, Pilot said the town has been helping the department transition into a fully independent organization.
Becoming an independent department will put the bulk of the business and financial end of running the department in members’ hands, and is a point of pride for members, Pilot said.
In celebration of both milestones, Pilot said MFD will incorporate the anniversary into several annual events. The installation banquet will be held May 2 for members, and will this year be attended by local dignitaries, Pilot said. At the Marcellus Memorial Day parade this year the department will march with the 125th anniversary banner they had made to commemorate the achievement.
The department also hopes this year to bring back the department’s teams for contests like pushball at the annual Onondaga County Fire Convention, hosted this year by the Camillus Fire Department at Veteran’s Memorial Park at Gillie Lake.
Pilot said a recent increase in department membership would hopefully provide enough team members to compete in the traditional games this year.
The MFD has about 40 members, and seven of those firefighters joined or re-joined the department this past year, a healthy boost for membership that Pilot was excited to share. And of the entire membership, about a quarter of those are also members of MAVES.
But although the department is enjoying a fuller roster these days, there is always room for more.
Volunteers must be over the age of 16; 18 for full interior firefighter privileges. Training is free, but volunteers are required to complete one 8-hour class per week for 21 weeks.
“The downside is, new members see the number of hours they need to train just to join the department, and it tends to scare members away. But when you come out of there, you are fully trained,” Pilot said. “But the best thing is that it’s free, gives you excellent skills and you are helping the community. There’s a sense of accomplishment.”
Passing a written exam and practicum are part of the New York State requirements, but ensure that volunteers are as capable as full-time, paid firefighters.
Pilot added that with the training required to volunteer, members will have the skills and knowledge necessary to join a full-time department: MFD members have gone on to become members firefighters in full-time departments in Syracuse, Charlotte, N.C. and Chesterfield County, Va.
And the training doesn’t just set you up to be a firefighter, Pilot noted. Fire training could also parlay into a career as a fire marshal, as the fire safety director with a school, or code enforcement, among other fields.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the department should leave a message for Pilot or MFD President Dave Card at the firehouse, 673-1818.
A brief history
In 125 years, countless members have worn the Marcellus uniform and the department has grown from a two-vehicle fleet consisting of a horse-drawn wagon and handcart to a six-apparatus company known for its “tool jobs.”
“Unfortunately, we get a lot of [car] wrecks,” Pilot said. As a result, MFD is well-stocked with specialized tools for collisions, and often aids neighboring departments in such situations.
The first MFD firehouse was located on Slocombe Avenue, where now stands the Marcellus Police Department headquarters. In 1966, the department moved to their current location on Slate Hill Road and a major renovation undertaken in 1994 brought the firehouse to the modern era of fire rescue.
For Pilot, there is a sense of heritage in the buildings. His father, Don Paul, was on the board responsible for the original building; he served on the board for the current firehouse. That sense of history in the community is one of the perks of being a firefighter, and it’s a big motivator for many members to volunteer and serve their neighbors.
“The fire department is all about pride. There’s a sense of community and heritage in belonging to an organization that’s been around that long,” Pilot said.
The department is a first responder for the town and village of Marcellus and Sheppard Settlement.
Last year, MFD responded to 270 calls.
Though Pilot said the first documentation of an organized department in Marcellus was dated May 1, 1884, there was probably some form of fire protection prior to that date.
Visit mfd.marcellusny.com for more information about the department and a more complete history.
MFD officers elected
Marcellus Fire Department held annual officer elections in December. The department’s installation dinner will be held in May. The election results:
Randy Pilot, Chief
Tom Lanning, 1st Asst. Chief
Jim Rossiter, 2nd Asst. Chief
Dave Card, Captain of Fire
Jeff Isgar, Captain of Rescue
Dave Card, President
John Randall, Vice President
Jeff Berwald, Secretary
John Calley, Treasure