Aberdeen's firefighters and EMS responders were honored for their service in 2011 during the department's annual fire banquet Saturday night.
The main award of the evening, the John F. Bender Safety Award, was presented by Bender himself to Gordon L. Biscomb, the department's fire prevention officer. Biscomb has served in the department since August 1979, Bender said, and initially came as an active duty military officer.
In his time with the Aberdeen department, Biscomb has led the fire prevention outreach for more than 25 years, Bender said, and conducted presentations at a variety of places including schools, senior citizens centers, fire prevention expos and other community events.
His efforts also included coordinating the smoke alarm installation program, in which members of the fire department install a smoke alarm and batteries to anyone who requests the service.
"It's almost impossible to measure the number of lives saved through Gordon's efforts," Bender said, "and those who have helped him over all these years, but we know lives have been saved."
Bender himself was honored for his 50 years of service and although D.B. Smith Jr. and Charles Duff were not at the banquet, they were also honored for 55 and 60 years of service respectively. The department also received a proclamation from the Maryland State Firemen's Association.
Harford County Councilman "Capt." Jim McMahan served as the toastmaster for the evening at the company's main hall on Rogers Street, addressing the men and women who served in the Aberdeen Fire Department.
After McMahan made several guest introductions, which included fellow County Councilman Richard Slutzky, Sen. Barry Glassman, Del. Glen Glass, Clerk of the Court James Reilly and Aberdeen Mayor Mike Bennett, President Russell A. Piper and Fire Chief Steven C. Hinch took the podium to announce the top EMS and fire responders.
The top 15 fire responders are D.B. Smith Jr., with 846 calls; Donald Collier Jr., with 558 calls; Dale Budnick Sr., with 533 calls; Scott Budnick, with 482 calls; Dale Budnick Jr., with 461 calls; Jon Ely, with 444 calls; Steven Hinch, with 428 calls; Edward Budnick, with 416 calls; Wilfred Adams, with 373 calls; Todd Piper, with 322 calls; William Smith Jr., with 281 calls, Tony Bennett, with 271 calls; Jim Pritts, with 246 calls; Emily Worthington, with 240 calls; and Russell Piper, with 237 calls.
On the EMS side there were five top responders, including Judy Mills-Hinch, with 144 calls; Mary Ann Baublitz, with 98 calls; Donald Collier Jr., with 94 calls; Jeffrey Sexton, with 80 calls; and Dale Budnick, with 66 calls.
Overall, there were 881 fire calls in 2011 and 3,140 EMS calls.
Piper and Hinch are also part of the elected officials for the upcoming year, which includes Vice President Chuck Glassman, Secretary Lyle DeShaw II, Treasurer Judith Hinch and Directors Donald Crites, Al Severn Jr. and John Bender.
On the fire side are Assistant Chief Dale Budnick, Battalion Chief 1 Steven Hinch, Battalion Chief 2 Keith Budnick, Battalion Chief 3 Edward Budnick and Battalion Chief 4 William Smith Jr. Appointed fire officers are Capt. Nick Weber and Lieutenants Curtis Diering, Mike Palmer, Scott Budnick, Brandon Collier, Don Crites, Josh Montague and Brian Scott.
EMS officers are Capt. Jeff Sexton and Lt. Judith Hinch. The safety officers are Fred Budnick and Russell Piper. Jonathan Bender and Richard White will serve as training officers. Life member George S. Barrett, who served more than 50 years, according to Piper, was also recognized during the program. Mr. Barrett died earlier this year.
As McMahan praised and thanked members of the Aberdeen Fire Department, he also remarked on the lack of recognition the men and women received for their service, adding that he wished the banquets could be public for everyone to see how hard they work.
"They will never know the number of times that families are left alone on holidays and birthdays," he said. "When the whistle blows, it's time to go."
That the public does not realize the sacrifices made is a "shame," McMahan said before voicing his own gratitude.
"From the bottom of my heart," he said, "I thank you."