Fire District Recognition Ceremony Honors Several Saugatuck-Douglas Firefighters, City Officials
The 2014 Oscars wasn’t the only event where awards have recently been handed out and done so to much thrill.
However, the difference in the Saugatuck Township Fire District Awards Ceremony on February 22 was that it did not come with all the glitz and glamour, yet definitely was a special event to thank and acknowledge dedicated employees and city officials and to show community pride.
“It certainly demonstrated the fire department has a very committed and dedicated personnel,” said Saugatuck Township Fire District Chief Greg Janik.
“It was one of the most enjoyable events I’ve been to that the fire department has been a part of. The awards ceremony was all about the firefighters, not about the fire chief.”
Many awards were presented, notable among them the recognition given to Saugatuck Township Fire District Deputy Chief Brent VanOss for his 15 years of service to the department.
“Brent started 15 years ago, but left for a few years and decided he missed us, so we will save his pin for that 15-year mark,” the fire department noted.
Mike Betts picked up the Fire Officer of the Year Award.
Another very important award read: “To Jane Verplank, Saugatuck Township Fire District Board Chair, for your continued and unrelenting support of the firefighters of Saugatuck Township Fire District from the Chief and Fire Officers.”
Verplank joined the fire board at the beginning of last year and was instrumental in the hiring of Janik and introducing a more professional structure to the board and how it goes about policies and procedures.
“We did make many changes throughout last year and it brought improvement and efficiency,” said Verplank.
“We couldn’t have done it without these fine men and women. Firefighting takes a lot of your personal time - some of that time is compensated, some is not - if you are going to be a first-grade firefighter. That is the kind of department we have,” she added.
The department also recognized all of Verplank’s colleagues, presenting them with a special fire board pin.
Voted on by peers and culminating in a delightful surprise was the tie between Dan Diaz and Mark Gargano for the Medical First Responder/Firefighter of the Year.
Diaz was also recognized for being one of three individuals who have achieved Firefighter II Level. The other two Level II achievers are Dane Schrecknegust and Linus Starring, also recognized for acting as interim fire chiefs in the absence of a full-time chief.
The department presented Adam Kerridge and John Mileskiewicz with firefighter badges, having moved from probationary status, which immediately follows firefighting school, to firefighter status.
Firefighters Kyle Meyer and Dennis Hanson were recognized for their five years of service, while Firefighters Phil Dalton and Scott Seymour were thanked for their 10 years of commitment to the department.
Father Corey Stoppel was officially appointed as the fire district’s chaplin and Erik Kirchert was commended for having reached the highest number of runs for a paid-on-call firefigher and medical first responder, at 136.