SARANAC LAKE - Firefighters John Duchaine, Aaron Donaldson, John Derby and Brendan Keough were honored at a ceremony in Louisville as part of the Northern New York Volunteer Firemen's Association 116th Convention.
Firemen of the Year candidates are nominated from the ranks of hundreds of volunteer firefighters from throughout northern New York. The recipient of this award is normally cited for bravery or a life-saving action in the line of duty. Runner-up candidates are sometimes cited for Meritorious Service when the nomination substantiates bravery or a life saving action.
The Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department is proud of its members who have been nominated, and selected for Fireman of the Year and Meritorious Service awards.
Members of the Saranac?Lake?Volunteer Fire Department are pictured at the Northern New York Volunteer Firemen’s Association 116th Convention. In the front row, from left to right, are James Dambro, Second Assistant Chief Jim Stinson, Chief Brendan Keough, First Assistant Chief Andrew McGill and Chuck Dobson. In the second row, from left to right, are Second Lieutenant Jeff White, John Law, Dave Martelle, Treasurer Debbie Zerrahn and Safety Officer Ed Woodard. In the third row, from left to right, are First Lieutenant Tim Donaldson, Aaron Donaldson, Robert Girard, John Duchane, paid driver John Derby and Fire Police Captain Frank Brier.
(Photo courtesy of the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department)
Below is a brief history of the SLVFD members selected for these awards:
1982: Kent Robinson and Kevin Tuthill were selected Firefighter of the Year for their part in saving the lives of seven people at the 1981 Berkley Hotel fire. This was the first time the award was given to a team and not a single individual.
1989: SLVFD Honor Roll Member Ed Hoyt was a member of the Paul Smiths Gabriels Volunteer Fire Department at the time of the incident when he was named Firefighter of the Year for his action in rescuing a woman from a burning building in Paul Smiths.
During the 1990s, paid fire driver Ronnie Muncil received the Meritorious Service Award for laddering an apartment building on Franklin Avenue and rescuing a woman via a window from a burning building with no other egress.
Also during the 1990s, five SLVFD members shared the Meritorious Service Award. Robert Nadon, Mike Dupree, Dave Martelle, Ken McLaughlin and Wade Sullivan were honored for life saving actions when two pulseless victims were retrieved from a submerged vehicle and then successfully resuscitated. This incident happened on the Old Ray Brook Road when the vehicle accidently drove into the pond near the Scarface Mountain trailhead.
This year's award recipients have been cited in the Enterprise, recognized by the Saranac Lake Village Board and were previously named as the Franklin County Firefighters of the Year. They are receiving this high honor for a fire last year.
At 3:11 a.m. May 19, 2011 the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched for a structure fire with potential entrapment at the Prescott House in Saranac Lake. The Prescott House is a multi-unit apartment building that was formally used as a women's college dormitory.
Upon arrival smoke was visible and bystanders informed firefighters that a tenant was still in the affected apartment.
Initial response included two trucks driven by paid drivers John Derby and Aaron Donaldson. Chief Brendan Keough and Firefighter John Duchaine arrived in their personal vehicles. Drivers Derby and Donaldson quickly established all set up and support operations while Chief Keough and Firefighter Duchaine donned full PPE and SCBA in preparation for search and rescue operations.
With water supply quickly established Chief Keough and firefighter Duchaine made entry into the building. Once at the effected apartment on the second floor, they encountered a fully involved room and the fire was blocking the only egress from the bedroom. Chief Keough and firefighter Duchaine did a quick knock down of the fire and established a left-handed search ventilating windows along the way. They encountered a bedroom with a closed door which fortunately blocked smoke and heat from the involved room. Upon entrance into the bedroom they found the tenant and guided him to safety. The only egress was back through the affected fire room.
The actions of these four firefighters helped saved the life of a trapped tenant. Their action is in keeping with the highest traditions of the fire service and is worthy of special recognition.
For the first time in convention history, multiple departments were recognized. This has been a busy year and there were at least three heroic life saving instances in Northern New York in the preceding year. Firefighters from four departments were named "Fireman of the Year."
The SLVFD would like to extend its congratulations to the recipients from the Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department and to the four firefighters from an incident in Glenfield, three from the "3-G" Volunteer Fire Company and one from the Lyons Falls Volunteer Fire Department.