The Crystal Fire Department honored several members for their years of service at a banquet held Saturday night at the St. Marys Country Club. Department member Ken "Rookie" Weidow served as master of ceremonies at the event. In addition to service awards, the department also recognized people who recently finished their rigorous basic training course that allows them to participate in firefighting and rescue activities.
Bill Kraus, CFD's fire chief, said the annual banquet recognizes members for their hard work and dedication during their time with the all-volunteer organization.
"The big thing is to honor these people for their many years of service to the community and to the department," Kraus said.
Awards were presented to Mike Cannon for 10 years of service; Ron Samick Jr., Jamie Lenze and Brian Gallagher for 15 years of service; Todd Caltagarone, Terry Forster, Don Nunamaker and Bruce Forster for 20 years; Bill Kraus, Jeff Smith and Tom Kerchinski for 30 years; Steve Gerg and Mike Goetz for 35 years; Joe Kopp for 40 years; Jerry Cavalline for 45 years; and Bill Bauer for 50 years of service. Dean McClain, who was honored for 10 years with the department, and Cal Robinson, who had 30 years of service, were unable to attend the awards banquet.
Steve Bauer, who serves as secretary of CFD, said continuity and stability have made the department what it is today, not only because people are members for so many years, but also because of the family-like bond that tends to develop between them.
Bauer noted that the common occurrence of multiple family members serving alongside each other also strengthens the department's membership base.
"It's a big tradition," Bauer said, adding that his father served with CFD, and that he and his brother are both current members.
CFD Treasurer Paul Malone estimated there have been about 30 to 40 father-son or brother-brother members serving together throughout the department's 110-year history. He said other reasons members stay with CFD for so long are the friendships they develop and the ways in which they can help the community.
"It's the camaraderie," Malone said. "Some of us never served in the military. This is our chance to give back."