Susquehanna Hose Company of Havre de Grace celebrated the latest Class 2 ISO – Insurance Services Office – rating at a dinner with city and Harford County officials and other members of the community. (David Anderson, BSMG)
The top Insurance Services Office rating for the Susquehanna Hose Company and the City of Havre de Grace was highlighted during the company's annual awards banquet Saturday evening, along with the company's supporters in the city, county and state governments, the top firefighters of 2014 and members who have saved lives during the past year.
The banquet was held in the Level Volunteer Fire Company's fire hall on Level Village Road.
Past Fire Chief Merrill Dougherty, who was the banquet's toastmaster, started the banquet with a presentation on the Class 2 rating the fire company and city received from the ISO for 2014.
"The ISO, to us, is like a report card," Dougherty said.
The rating is a combination of the local emergency dispatch system, local water infrastructure and the fire company's firefighting capabilities.
Packard noted accomplishments such as completing the lengthy and detailed ISO review, kicking off the process of replacing a pumper truck, moving the company fire and rescue boat from the No. 3 firehouse on Market Street to a boat slip off Tydings Park – which cut response times for marine emergencies from 15 minutes to less than four – obtaining city funding for a replacement boat, developing a training program to fight fires at houses with solar panels on the roof and the company's first head-shaving event to raise money for the St. Baldrick's Foundation to fight childhood cancer.
Packard said more than $63,000 was raised for St. Baldrick's during the first event, which he called a "phenomenal feat for a small company in a small town doing it for the first time."
The president also noted low points, such as the injuries Deputy Chief Bobby Goll Jr. suffered when he slipped and fell on a boat ramp in July and an accident during a house fire call in Cecil County in September, when a chimney fell on Assistant Chief Wayne Carroll.
Carroll went up to the roof to tell firefighters to get off because he was not able to communicate with them on the local radio network.
Packard noted Carroll and Goll have recovered and returned to duty.
The company gave a special recognition to outgoing Havre de Grace Mayor Wayne Dougherty, who has announced he will not seek another term.
Packard noted the company must often seek support from outside governing bodies such as the City of Havre de Grace and Harford County.
"When you know you have somebody who has your back, when you know you have somebody you can go to, to make that presentation and you act professional, deal with them professionally, they deal with you that same way, the chief and I have had the great opportunity over the last several years to have this relationship with the mayor of Havre de Grace, Wayne Dougherty," Packard said.
The mayor thanked company members in a brief, but emotional, speech.
"None of you in this room, nor in the leadership of the Hose Company, owes me a thank you," Dougherty said. "I owe you a thank you. I know the sacrifices that each and every one of you make, and it goes beyond just you as a member, but the sacrifice that your family makes. For that, we are blessed in the City of Havre de Grace."
Packard also read from a proclamation honoring former Harford County Executive David Craig, who was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor last year and has been named Maryland's planning secretary.
Craig, who had to leave the banquet early, is also a former mayor of Havre de Grace and native of the city, and Packard said the company could count on support from a leader "that understood our fire company."
Company leaders also presented community service awards to the Havre de Grace mayor and City Council and members of the Harford County Council and James Malone Jr., the county's parks and recreation director who represented Harford County Executive Barry Glassman.
Assistant Chief Steve Allers, Lt. Charlie Jones, Lt. Matt Albert, Ian Morlok and Brad Borkowski were honored for rescuing a kayaker from the Chesapeake Bay on April 29, 2014. Hurst said members of the boat rescue crew noted a hook attached to the sinking kayak was stuck in the victim's hand.
Crew members cut the hook loose and pulled the victim into the boat. They got him back to land, where he was treated for hypothermia and the injury to his hand, the chief said.
Members of the company's swift-water rescue team, including Bill and Gail Reeder, Rick Sova and Ryan Nilsen, were honored for rescuing three people from vehicles trapped in flash flooding around Winters Run in April 2014.
"Congratulations to the swift-water team for three lives saved," Hurst said.
Firefighters of the year
Company Treasurer Joe Weatherstein was named The Record newspaper's Firefighter of the Year. Weatherstein is an active firefighter who completed rescue diver training in 2014, Packard said.
"This individual serves the company in an elected capacity, and he serves the company tremendously well in a very, very professional manner," Packard said.
Hurst announced the Hose Company's Firefighter of the Year, company Secretary Elaine Burchette.
He called Burchette "somebody who goes above and beyond in everything that they do."
"This firefighter has exceeded all expectations and continues to exceed all expectations," the chief said.
Hurst noted Burchette has completed multiple firefighter training courses, served as a second and first lieutenant, plus she has supported the company during the ISO review by updating more than 180 "preplans" on how firefighters will respond to a call at any particular structure in the company's coverage area, and has been "a crucial part" of the St. Baldrick's fundraisers, which have brought in more than $135,000 during the 2014 and 2015 head-shaving events.
Top responders, trainers
The top 10 fire responders for 2014 were Assistant Chief Steve Allers, with 595 calls; Ian Morlok, 516; Tom Phelan, 472; Stephen Buchanan, 462; Chad Myers, 446; Fred Cullum, 435; Jami Gomez, 408; Walter "Pee Wee" Glenn, 407; Scott Pentz, 390; and Ken Beyer Sr., who had 383 calls.
The 15 members with highest number of training hours in 2014 were Will Berry, with 462 hours; Chad Myers, 319; Elaine Burchette, 312; Grant Morris, 282; Kelsi Ludwigsen, 268; Ryan Nilsen, 249; Mike Elder, 237; Scott Pentz, 222; Brian Remines, 211; Sean O'Brien, 210; Ken Beyer Sr., 194; Craig Triplett, 187; Robbie Perry, 180; Brad Borkowski, 170; and Chief Scott Hurst with 170 hours.