New Fire Marshal Among Those Sworn In As Plans For The Future Discussed
With friends, families and officials from area departments looking on, officers of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department were sworn in Tuesday night by First Selectman James Zeoli.
The department’s annual dinner, attended by about 180 firefighters, families and representatives of other departments, kicked off a year-long celebration of the department’s 95th anniversary. In addition to celebrating new officers and future goals, guests remembered three people important to the Orange Volunteer Fire Department who died during 2019.
Zeoli also administered the oath of office to the town’s new fire marshal, James Vincent. Fire Chief Vaughan Dumas recognized three firefighters for outstanding service and Auxiliary President Jillian Gagel acknowledged the service of several auxiliary members.
In addition to Zeoli and other members of town government, state legislators joined the celebration. State Rep. Kathy Kennedy, R-119; State Rep. Themis Klarides, R-114; and State Sen. James Maroney, D-14; thanked the firefighters for their service.
“You make our lives safe and you keep our families together,” said Klarides, who also got loud applause when she promised to continue fighting for a regional fire school.
Zeoli swore in the new Orange fire officers after expressing his appreciation for the work done by the department. “Every person here has someone who is concerned about you when you leave the house,” he said. “We appreciate what you do for this town each and every day. I ’m behind you 110 percent.”
A former firefighter, Zeoli promised to support the needs of the fire department. Firefighters cheered when he said preliminary discussions about a new firehouse were under way.
Fire officers sworn in were:
- Vaughan Dumas, fire chief;
- Charles Sherwood, deputy fire chief;
- Dan Cole, assistant fire chief;
- Eric Auscavitch, assistant fire chief;
- Joe Duplinsky, captain;
- David Tufano, captain;
- Dan Abrams, lieutenant;
- John Gagel, lieutenant;
- Leo Moran, executive board representative;
- Charles William Laudenslager, executive board representative;
- Peter Daniels, recording secretary;
- Lisa Kaplan, corresponding secretary;
- Burt Gallant, treasurer;
- Art Williams, assistant treasurer.
Each officer took the oath of office and had their badge pinned on their uniform coat. John Gagel, a third-generation Orange firefighter, received his grandfather’s lieutenant badge.
Firefighter Tom Astram received an award for responding to the most calls. Firefighter Drew Panapada was recognized for his leadership and Eric Auscavitch was named firefighter of the year.
The mood shifted as Zeoli again rose to the podium to swear in James Vincent as the town’s new fire marshal. Although the fire marshal is a town employee, the venue for the ceremony recognized the close relationship between the Fire Department and the marshal’s office. It was an emotional few minutes as first Zeoli, then Vincent, spoke fondly about Tim Smith, Vincent’s predecessor and close friend, who died earlier this year. Vincent took the oath as Orange officers rose to attention and his wife and two children stood by his side.
In addition to Smith, Dumas also remembered Associate Firefighter Andrew Pol and OVFD Auxiliary Member Annie Davis, both of whom died suddenly during 2019. Dumas then turned his thoughts to 2020 and beyond.
Dumas said the department responded to 634 calls during 2019, its highest call volume ever. Active firefighters put in 325 hours of service each at fire calls. Adding in clean-up from calls, training, fundraising, work around the firehouses and other duties, brings that figure to more than 500 hours of service by each active firefighter.
Accomplishments during 2019 included taking delivery of a new truck, improving the radio system, exceeding the department’s financial goals and completing some station renovations.
For 2020, goals include celebrating the department’s 95th anniversary and beginning work on other long-range plans including replacing its 85-year-old station on Orange Center Road and replacing a ladder truck. Dumas also talked about continuing to build close relationships with the police department and fire marshal’s office. “Information sharing is growing, and we appreciate the positive impact of working cohesively with the police and other town agencies,” he said.
The OVFD Auxiliary announced it would be donating money it has raised from its fundraising efforts to the department for station upgrades and new air packs. Auxiliary President Jillian Gagel talked about the success of new events the group had held and reminded members to attend the Pancake Supper on April 27 at Chips on the Boston Post Road.
Several members were honored for the length of service in the Auxiliary. Those included Barbara Boppert, Linda Gagel and Mary Gagel, 25 years; Victoria Arms, Gloria Capecelatro, Bert Gallant and Bette Goodwin, 20 years; and Elaine Capecelatro, 15 years.
The Orange Volunteer Fire Association provides fire protection to residents and businesses in Orange and, through mutual aid, surrounding towns. Members receive training in fire suppression, rescue, hazardous materials response, homeland security issues and other emergency services.
Operating strictly with revenues from fundraisers and donations, the Orange Volunteer Fire Department is one of the remaining few all-volunteer incorporated fire departments in Connecticut. Active members are on-call to serve the community on a 24-hour/seven-day basis, responding from stations on Orange Center Road and Boston Post Road.
In addition, the fire company offers public education services including lectures, demonstrations and training. For information about membership, donations or public education, call (203) 891-4703, click on https://www.orangevfd.org/ or find us on Facebook.