Members of the Aberdeen Fire Department, joined by their families and guests, celebrated another busy year and honored top responders and long-serving members at their annual banquet Saturday evening.
This year’s banquet, held at the hall in the main fire station on North Rogers Street, was more casual and informal than past years, leaders said. It was a bull roast style buffet catered by Cowboy Eats of Fallston, and the speeches were kept to a minimum.
The volunteer organization is celebrating its 128th year serving Aberdeen and surrounding areas.
“Every year we try to do this different and we fail,” said fire company President Ed Budnick, who presided at the awards ceremony along with Chief Steven Hinch and master of ceremonies Jeffrey Sexton. “It’s just difficult to incentivize and reward people who are not in the business of needing incentives and rewards.”
Budnick recalled the incident last July when the men and women of Aberdeen Fire Department responded to a call on Edmund Street, where a driver had lost control of her vehicle and crashed into a house, trapping a 16-year-old boy, who had been asleep in the basement, under the vehicle.
According to the report of the incident on www.theaegis.com, it took approximately an hour for the fire personnel to free the 16-year-old, who was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center and later released.
“When you have something like that – spending so much time with the victim – you get to know them,” Budnick said, explaining that the 16-year-old later came by the fire station to personally thank his rescuers.
“That meant as much to the guys that were there than anything,” he said. “All our guys and gals do tremendous work.”
The Aberdeen Fire Department responded to 903 fire calls and 3,804 emergency medical calls during 2017, according to the brief statistical report that was part of the banquet program.
Members were on standby or sleep-in duty for 12,135 hours and also took 3,573 hours of training.
They also participated in 4,638 hours of administrative activities, including maintenance, fire prevention and various meetings.
Budnick said citizens of Aberdeen and surrounding areas are “extremely fortunate” to have a strong emergency medical services team serving them.
As circumstances have dictated – training and time requirements in particular – about 90 percent of the medical calls in Aberdeen’s service area are handled by paid contractual EMS crews, he said.
“It’s a challenge to be available 24 hours day and night to take care of our citizens responsibly and at a high level,” Budnick said, explaining that there are situations when additional personnel are needed, at which point the volunteer members of the department who are trained EMS personnel go on duty.
These volunteers will be on duty for 12 hours at a time, he said, and in doing so help maintain the “high level” of service provided by Aberdeen’s EMS operation.
So, even though EMS response numbers by the volunteers have trended down in recent years, Budnick said, those members remain “important to the county and the city.”
Fifty-year service pins were presented to Wilfred Adams and Fred Morlok.
Keith Budnick received a 40-year service pin and Albert Severn III received a 35-year pin.
George Keithley received a 25-year pin and Walt Hare received a 20-year pin.
Honored for 10 years of service were Scott Budnick, Dennis Collins, John Hopkins Jr., Joshua Montague, Randy Piper and Adam Smith.
James Clement and Darnell Hill were honored for five years of service.
Daniel Smith Jr. responded to 816 fire calls in 2017, tops for the Aberdeen Fire Department.
Other members in the top 15 for fire responses were John Bender, 492 calls; Edward Budnick, 482; Dale Budnick Sr., 392; Thomas Crites, 376; George Keithley, 369; Wilfred Adams, 367; Dale Budnick Jr., 364; Fred Budnick, 358; Scott Budnick, 340; Joshua Montague, 312; Tony Bennett, 289; Jeffrey Sexton, 284; Noel Budnick, 245; and Joshua Blanchette, 252.
Scott Budnick was the top EMS responder in 2017 with 77 calls.
Others in the top five EMS responders were Jeffrey Sexton, 73 calls; Judith Mills-Hinch, 67 calls; Dale Budnick Sr., 42, and Joshua Montague, 35.
The top fire responder and top EMS responder each received proclamations from Harford County government, the Harford County Council and the Maryland House of Delegates and Maryland State Senate.
Harford County Executive Barry Glassman attended the banquet, as did Council President Richard Slutzky and council members Mike Perrone and Pat Vincenti and Jean Beulah, the wife of Councilman Curtis Beulah. District 34 State Sen. Robert Cassilly represented area legislators.
In addition to President Ed Budnick, 2018 AFD administrative officers are John Bender, vice president; Judith Mills-Hinch, secretary; Fred Budnick, treasurer; Russell Piper, director three years; Noel Budnick, director two years; and Craig Walker, director one year.
Joining Chief Steven C. Hinch as fire line officers are Joshua Montague, assistant chief; Jeffrey Sexton, battalion chief; and Steven S. Hinch, battalion chief.
Fire captains are Nick Weber, Scott Budnick and Noel Budnick.
Fire lieutenants are Don Crites, Josh Blanchette and John Ely.
Looking back, ahead
Following the brief awards ceremony, a multi-media presentation prepared by AFD members was shown, highlighting calls and activities from 2017.
The mission of the AFD was summed up nicely by John Bender, the vice president, in his benediction: “Our Heavenly Father, let us go forth this night empowered with thy almighty spirit. Embrace us in Your love, care and protection as we strive to carry out the mission of the Aberdeen Volunteer Fire Department in the finest tradition and pride of the American fire service. For these things we pray in Your holy name.”