Twenty-one-year-old Jeffrey Hatch was born to be a fireman.
Indeed, many would agree.
Even in the first grade, Hatch showed little hesitation proclaiming his career goals with gusto, scribbling to his teacher in crayon, "I want to be a fireman,"
Pictured, from left, are state Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean; Hatch; and Ryan Walker, former Bemus Point fire chief.
"It's what I've always wanted to do," Hatch said. "I don't remember not wanting to be a fireman."
Hatch, a Bemus Point native, was still a junior at Maple Grove High School when he joined the Bemus Point Fire Department.
"The other kids played football or basketball ... I spent my extracurricular time at the fire station attending training classes," Hatch said.
The hard work apparently paid off.
After graduating from Jamestown Community College in 2012, Hatch could already call himself a certified EMT and paramedic.
Now pursuing a bachelor's degree in Fire Service Administration at Empire State College's satellite office in Jamestown, Hatch continues to work as a paramedic for Alstar Ambulance.
"My ultimate career goal is to become a fireman for the Jamestown Fire Department," Hatch said.
Based on his experience-which includes responding to more than 100 emergency and fire calls-this seems likely.
Hatch, the son of Monty and Julie Hatch of Bemus Point, greatly credits his parents-and the beef cattle farm that he grew up on- for instilling a strong work ethic in him at a young age.
"(My parents always said) it doesn't matter if you're paid for a job or not paid for a job, give it all you have and try to complete it. That's really stayed with me," Hatch said.
Perhaps it's no surprise that Hatch became the youngest recipient of the Bemus Point Fireman of the Year award in 2012, an honor voted on by Hatch's peers at the Bemus Point Fire Department.
"It's a huge honor and a privilege," said Hatch. "I'm just one out of a bunch of great individuals ... we're all doing what we can to help our community."
Attendees at the banquet - which was held at Jamestown's La Scala restaurant - included Ryan Walker, the former Bemus Point fire chief, and New York State Sen. Catharine Young.
Steve Hayes, the current fire chief of the Bemus Point Fire Department, called Hatch a dedicated member of the team, describing the award as "well-deserved" and a tribute to someone who's invested so much time in their training and education.
In Hatch's spare time, he enjoys working on the family farm, playing drums in his church's band and spending time with his fiancee, a registered nurse who he plans to marry in May.
When asked if his fiancee had any concerns about his work, Hatch said she supports him 110 percent.
"She knows this is who I am," Hatch said. "Firemen unfortunately witness a lot of tragedies, but there's also a lot of good that comes from the job. It's really a privilege to get to help someone on what could be one of their worst days. There's a lot of joy that comes from that."
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