STOW - Celebrating Ashville Fire Department's 100th anniversary comes with a lot of pride for current members and the community.
Saturday's ceremony at Ashville Fire Hall came to remember and honor all men and women who have dedicated their lives serving in the department in the past 100 years. From aiding people in need of immediate medical attention to assisting surrounding communities, the service was a way to acknowledge and praise those who have risked their lives, and continue to do so day after day.
Lee Fischer, a fireman for five years, gave the invocation, saying to always keep firefighters in daily thoughts and prayers. He was happy to report that no fatalities have occurred in the department for the last 100 years.
Members of the Ashville Fire Department celebrate the 100th anniversary of the department Saturday.
P-J photo by Jimmy McCarthy
"We can never thank these people enough for all they do for us," Fischer said.
Mike Gleason, president of the Ashville Fire Department, has put 26 years in as a firefighter having been fire chief and assistant fire chief. He's also deputy fire coordinator for Chautauqua County. He was present for the 75th anniversary and this year's celebration. But he didn't think he would make the next 100 years.
"This is a big honor for us," Gleason said. "There's a lot of members here and a lot of family. We have members who have 40-plus years in. We wanted to honor everyone who's served in this department and the community."
In its 100th year, the fire department has seen several upgrades to the facility. Upgrades to the equipment and the acquisition of an apparatus has made the Ashville Fire Department one of the most state-of-the-art facilities across Chautauqua County. A year ago, the department installed a new helipad behind the building. The department as a result expanded its area of coverage to 42 square miles. Ashville also assists other fire departments nearby, including Bemus Point. Steve Hays, Bemus Point fire chief, expressed his gratitude having the fire department's assistance when needed.
"We know that our neighbors are going to come help us," Hays said "That gives us great comfort now and going forward."
New York State Sen. Catharine Young, R-C-I-Olean, was thrilled to have the opportunity to be at the 100th anniversary celebration. She not only recognized the efforts put forth by the fire department, but also mentioned Diane Territo, treasurer of the company. Territo passed away Aug. 10. Before the celebration began, a moment of silence was given in honor of Territo and her service.
"I knew Dianne and she obviously was a wonderful person who contributed so much," Young said. "It shows though that we're all family and I consider myself to be a part of that fire service family because I know what you do. If you think about the past 100 years and the profound impact that this department has had on the community, each one of those calls was to respond to a crisis. What you have done has had exponential impact."
Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan lives across the lake from Ashville Bay. He noted that when the scanner goes off during the night, whether it's an accident during a snowstorm or a rescue, he thinks about the first responders heading out. And he thanked those who are on stand-by around the community, including the Ashville Fire Department. Horrigan gave a certificate of recognition to the fire department for 100 years of serving and protecting the people.
"They dedicate hours and hours of professional training to deal with life emergencies," Horrigan said. "That commitment to be a professional in a volunteer role is wonderful."
Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph Gerace thought of all the volunteer organizations that he's been involved with throughout his adult life. He couldn't think of one that required the training, education and commitment of the volunteer fire services.
This anniversary is celebrating something that is very important to our county and to our community," Gerace said. "It's a reminder to us how fortunate we are to have these people to put their lives on the line to help others."