John Gay named Firefighter of the Year at annual installation banquet
Fire Chief Robbie Cassou, right, presents Capt. John Gay with the Quincy Volunteer Fire Department’s coveted 2012 Firefighter of the Year award. The presentation was made at the department’s annual Installation of Officers dinner Saturday, Feb. 16. Photo by Kimberly Eliason
Leading the “Top 10” list for the total number of hours local firefighters spent training this past year and being at the top of another list for the number of emergency calls they each responded to were just a small part of the reason John Gay was selected as the Quincy Volunteer Fire Department’s 2012 Firefighter of the Year.
In making the presentation at the department’s annual Installation of Officers dinner Saturday, Feb. 16, Fire Commissioner Chuck Leonhardt said this prestigious honor is given to the member who exemplifies the high ethical standards that are the cornerstone of the department and that Gay has exhibited this exceptional character in all aspects of his life.
Leonhardt acknowledged Gay for his unselfish participation in nearly every training, public education and fundraising activity the department has been involved in over the past two years “including a new tradition he and his wife, Kitty, have given our department by sponsoring a night at the Community Supper.”
Leonhardt told the audience that when Gay is not at the fire station he is always representing the department in a positive light while working at the food bank, his church or while teaching at Feather River College.
Fire Chief Robbie Cassou said of Gay, “Before sunrise on any given day Gay can be found at the station washing and sorting turnouts, sweeping and mopping floors, washing and hanging fire hose or polishing the fire engines.
“He has been an exceptional role model for all department members. He has been a steadfast supporter of our fire department and its mission. He encourages all fire service personnel to promote a culture of ethical integrity and high standards of professionalism in this field,” said Cassou.
After retiring from more than three decades of fire service while with the United States Forest Service, Gay applied to become a member of QVFD. He graduated from the Quincy Fire Academy in 2011 and in less than a year he was promoted to engine company captain.
In 2012, he returned to the academy as an instructor and was elected as the Fire Instructor of the Year by a class of 40 firefighters and officers from throughout Plumas County and beyond.
In what has become a standard for the QVFD firefighters, Gay personally devoted 302 hours of his own time for training and responded to 303 of the department’s 446 emergency calls.
Right behind Gay on the 2012 Top 10 list of those responding to emergencies were Deputy Chief David Windle, 274; Assistant Chief Frank Carey, 259; Robert Hopman, 199; James Mann, 186; Brandon Pitlock, 170; Chief Cassou, 122; Capt. Woody Wilson, 121; Capt. Tim Pitlock, 113; and Robert Pierson, who made it on 83 calls.
The 39 volunteer firefighters amassed an impressive 3,850 hours of training this past year.
Following Gay on the Top 10 in total training hours were Cassou, 261; Capt. David Schmid, 230; Carey, 214; Wilson, 196; Secretary Julie Cassou, 190; Mann, 146; Robert Stewart, 110; Tony DeMartini, 102; and Capt. Clayton Beck, with 100 hours.
Windle presented several individuals with recognition for milestones of service to the department.
Five years: Sara Anderson, Andrew Eaton, Brandon Pitlock, Robert Stewart and Woody Wilson.
Clayton Beck was presented with a 15-year pin and Julie Cassou and Jim Mann were given their 20-year pins.
Windle also made a special point to introduce the members of the department’s auxiliary team, “the future of our department,” he said.
They include Brandon Broadhead, Tim Butler, Dave Edwards, John Hawkins, Michael Hawkins, Robert Hopman, Nick Kaiser, James LaPointe, Nick McMaster, Kathleen Quinn, Jonathan Robinette and Cristina Weinberg.
He also introduced another integral part of the fire department’s family, the support team. They are Julie Cassou, John Cullen, Kathy Errecart, Rick Foster, Lisa Hopman, Leanna Mann, Ray Nichol, Allen Smith, Steve Tolan, Suzanne Wilson and Virginia Windle.