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At the Quincy Volunteer Fire Department’s annual dinner, Fire Commissioner Mike Taborski installs the department’s 2017 officers. From the left are Deputy Chief David Windle; Captains Matt West, David Schmid and John Gay; Support Team Leader Ray Nichol, Assistant Chief Frank Carey, Captain Dony Sawchuk and Chief Robbie Cassou.

Several firefighters honored at department’s awards banquet

Commissioner Chuck Leonhardt presents Quincy Volunteer Fire Department’s Matt West with this year’s coveted Firefighter of the Year award.

Several members of the Quincy Volunteer Fire Department were honored at the company’s 139th annual Installation of Officers and Awards Banquet held Saturday, Feb. 11 at the fire hall.

Firefighter of the Year

Since joining the department in 2014, Captain Matthew West quickly distinguished himself as an excellent firefighter, apparatus operator, first responder and mentor to earn the prestigious Firefighter of the Year award for 2016.

In making the presentation at the department’s banquet, Fire Commissioner Chuck Leonhardt said, “West is passionate about learning new things and enjoys passing his knowledge on to others,” adding that he always presents himself as a positive, confident and professional representative of the Quincy Volunteer Fire Department.

Leonhardt added, “He is well established in the community ensuring that he will be a long-term asset to both the department and the community.”

Fire Chief Robbie Cassou also praised West. “Besides earning this coveted award, West was also recently elected to serve as one of the department’s captains for 2017, another tribute to the confidence and respect he has earned from his fellow firefighters.”

West is a graduate of the Fire Academy and returned this past year to serve as one of its instructors, which he also does frequently at the department’s regular weekly training meetings.

Rookie of the Year Award

Chief Cassou presents Firefighter Rachel Cudia with the department’s first-ever Rookie of the Year award.

Cassou introduced the Rookie of the Year award as one of the two new honors presented this year.

He said this award is given to the Auxiliary Team firefighter who demonstrates exceptional performance in training, response, attendance and community service. This year’s recipient was firefighter Rachel Cudia.

Cassou explained that Cudia is technically no longer a rookie, having recently been chosen by her peers for full membership in the department as a regular firefighter.

“She is highly respected by her fellow firefighters and officers. Cudia has exhibited a willingness to learn and doesn’t back down from any challenge. She has shown great enthusiasm for our mission as well as selfless dedication to the community and the department,” said Cassou.

Captain Dony Sawchuk, right, gives the first-ever Excellence in Community Service award to Captain John Gay.

Excellence in Community Service Award

The other new award given for the first time this year is to honor the firefighter who stands out as a leader both in the department and in the community — “someone who is engaged in activities that truly give back and elevate our community in a way that can change lives.”

For those who know this year’s recipient, Captain John Gay, they know firsthand how much he and his wife Kitty, have done to make Quincy and its surrounding area such a great place to live and raise a family.

In making the presentation, Captain Dony Sawchuk said Gay has participated in nearly every training exercise, public education and fund-raising activity the department has sponsored. “He is an exceptional role model for all members. He has been a mentor to our fire auxiliary team and a steadfast supporter of the department and its mission,” noted Sawchuk

“When he is not at the station, he is always representing the department in a positive light while it’s when he is working at the food bank, his church or teaching or coaching at the community college. No task is beneath him and he is always seeking new ways to make someone’s life a little better, even if it’s just mowing the lawn for one of our senior citizens. He has one of the most charitable hearts we know in this community,” added Sawchuk.

Other acknowledgements

Support Team leader C. Ray Nichol honors Tracy Weaver as this year’s Support Team Member of the Year on Feb. 11 at the Quincy fire station. Photos by Maureen Forster

Ray Nichol, the QVFD’s support team leader, presented Tracy Weaver with the 2016 Support Team Member of the Year award. Nichol said that Weaver’s dedication to the team’s ongoing training programs along with her exceptional dependability in responding to emergency calls made her a clear choice for the honor this year.

During the evening’s ceremonies, Cassou also introduced Joe Catterson, Ryan Nichols and Edward Badalamenti as the department’s newest certified firefighters.

He also introduced 12 new members of the department’s auxiliary team who are in training to become firefighters.

The top non-officer Responders of the Year honors went to Dean Laroski with 184, Kevin Correira with 176 and Matt West with 125.

The chief also honored those first responders who increased the number of responses they made by 50 or more calls.

Leading the list was Deputy Chief David Windle with 262 calls, up 88 from the prior year. Charlie Read, 167 calls, up 69; West, 125 calls, up 83; Robert Pierson, 99 calls, up 50; and Laroski, 184, up 79.

Service Milestones

Captain James Mann is retiring this year after serving his community as a volunteer member of the fire department for 25 years. All during that time he stayed busy serving as a firefighter, training officer, captain and engineer.

In honoring Mann for his unequaled contributions, Cassou told the audience his attendance at drills, emergency responses and as an instructor is legendary. “If he was within a 100 miles of our fire station and we got a call, Jim would find a way to respond,” he said.

Clayton Beck also announced his retirement this year, after 20 years of service to the QVFD.

He has been a constant fixture at the department’s regional Fire Academy and as a fire captain for the Forest Service, and he has helped the QVFD with all their wildland fire training exercises.

“His commitment to the department has been exemplary. His selflessness, loyalty and dedication have made him a valued member of our team and he’ll be missed, remarked Cassou.

Retiring volunteer firefighter Jim Mann, left, was recognized for the 25 years of service he has given to the department by Chief Robbie Cassou.

He also presented pins noting 10 years of service to the department to firefighters Emilio Garcia and Kevin Errecart and Captain David Schmid.

Volunteers leading the way

The 33 volunteer firefights and the 13 members of the support team were recognized at the installation banquet for their many contributions and dedication to both the department and to the community. As a group, in 2016 they invested more than 9,000 hours of their own time on emergency calls, training and other volunteer and fundraising activities for the department.

Quincy Fire Department’s 2016 summary of operations

Volunteer firefighters: 33

Support team volunteers: 14

Paid staff: 3

Commissioners: 3

Fire stations: 3

(Quincy, East Quincy,

Chandler Road)

Response calls

Medical aid: 389

Auto accidents: 54

Fire: 71

Hazmat: 11

Other calls: 82

Total response calls: 607

Total individual responses:


Average personnel per call:


Total time

Total response hours: 2,075

Training hours: 4,580

Support Team hours: 922

Other volunteer hours: 1,970

Total volunteer hours: 9,547

Footnote: The Department of Labor conservatively estimates the value of volunteer time at $25 per hour. Using that figure alone, these volunteers represented a savings to the district of over $230,000 last year and the savings with volunteers is significantly greater then that of a fully paid department.

One thought on “Several firefighters honored at department’s awards banquet

  • Congratulations to Matt West it is well deserved

    Aunt Charlotte

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