The Crystal Fire Department was presented with the Distinguished Service Award during American Legion Post 103's annual Veterans Day Banquet at the Bavarian Hills on Saturday evening.
Victor Straub, Legion member and master of ceremonies for the banquet, explained that the Distinguished Service Award is a special award that is presented to someone who has distinguished himself or herself in giving of their time, efforts and talents in creating a better community. On two prior occasions, the award was presented to organizations for their outstanding service to the community.
"The recipient of this award is selected by a special committee composed of dedicated legionnaires of St. Marys Post 103. In selecting the recipient, the committee weighs the qualifications of the nominees, and from these candidates they choose the most deserving to receive the award. Their choice is then approved by the officers of the post. Upon their approval, the name or the selectee, along with their qualifications, are forwarded to the American Legion department headquarters in Harrisburg for their review and certification," Straub said.
He added that, because of the exceptional dedication and unselfish efforts required to receive this award, it has not been presented every year.
"As a matter of record, 51 Distinguished Service Awards have been presented over the past 90 years, 1919-2009," Straub said.
Straub remarked that the Crystal Fire Department is a very special organization, having been an indispensable partner of the community for 110 years.
"Their main purpose of existence is to save lives and property and they have been doing this in an outstanding and professional manner throughout the long life of the organization. Their organization is composed of a volunteer force of dedicated and well-trained personnel, having a chartered membership of 100, and at the present time they have 92 active members. The age of their membership spans from 18 to 80 years of age. The younger members actively participate in the operations, while the older members take care of the administrative duties and maintenance of the equipment," Straub said.
Members of the Crystal Fire Department must complete 244 hours of training just to begin participating in department activities, with continuous training required. It takes an average of $3,500 to equip one member of the organization, which provides protection to a diverse population throughout the 90-plus square miles of the city. The department's equipment, which is valued at over $3.5 million, is used to safeguard and protect citizens from a number of dangers.
For more on this story, see the Nov. 15 edition of The Daily Press.