By Mike Taborski
Each February the members of the Quincy Volunteer Fire Department select one of their own who best embodies the mission and values of the department to receive the coveted Firefighter of the Year award. This year the volunteers chose Deputy Fire Chief David Windle.
It should be noted that members and their families, along with other distinguished guests, traditionally gather for a festive evening at the department’s annual Awards Banquet and Installation of Officers. However, as with with all gatherings, COVID safety restrictions necessitated a change to the ceremony’s format this year. Only the department’s captains and a few honorees were actually in attendance at the fire hall while others virtually watched the presentations from the comfort of their homes.
Fire commissioner Johnny Mansell had the honor to present this year’s prestigious award to Windle at the department’s 143rd annual banquet Saturday, Feb. 20.
In his remarks Mansell said this year’s recipient joined the department in 1981 eager to learn all he could about the fire department and emergency services. He attended and later led numerous classes and symposiums here and throughout the state.
“He has been described by his peers as a ‘born leader.’ Whether on incidents or training exercises, he is always looking for out for the safety of all responders and the public. He has earned the respect of his fellow firefighters and officers,” Mansell said.
Windle is always on the Top Five list of responders for the year and is relied on to take command of any incident, large or small, and integrates well with members of other response agencies.
Windle was also lauded for his work as the longstanding secretary of the department’s non-profit group, spending evenings and weekends on its assorted bookkeeping and reporting tasks.
Fire Chief Robbie Cassou praised Windle for many of his other contributions to the department.
“He routinely shows his generosity by making donations to the department, ranging from things like office computers to COVID masks, all of which he pays for out of his own pocket. He also donates much of his personal time to the department. In addition to responding to calls and training, he can be found at most activities, like sporting events and car races, where the fire department is present,” Chief Cassou said. “David has repeatedly shown his selfless dedication to the department and the community. He puts his heart and soul into everything he does, and always does what he believes is in the best interest of the department.”
Member of the Year
At nearly every incident, firefighters have the unwavering support of the department’s Support Team, another group of dedicated volunteers making sure those on the frontlines have all they need to safely and efficiently succeed.
Team Leader Kevin Griffin, who has been with the department since 2016, was named the 2020 Support Team Member of the Year.
While honoring Griffin, Chief Cassou said that he is very knowledgeable in the operation of the support bus and the SBC tanks oxygen air-fill station.
“He is always available to respond, even when he says he not. When dispatched to an incident, Kevin is often the first one at the station preparing the support bus for its response and is usually the last one to leave the station after making sure the bus is ready for its next mission.
“Kevin routinely looks for other ways to serve the department and the community by helping with children’s fire prevention activities, the pancake breakfast, driving the support bus in parades and even painting red curbs in front of fire hydrants throughout the district,” Chief Cassou said.
Captain Gay retires
Although he has only been with QVFD for 10 years, Captain John Gay’s retirement last December leaves a huge void within the department, which, as those in the department will attest, he treated as his second home.
In presenting him with a plaque commemorating his decade of service, Chief Cassou said that he is the poster child for what it means to be a Quincy Volunteer Firefighter. He is the face of community service, not just with Quincy Fire but with his church, the schools, the food bank and anywhere else he is needed.
“His patience and dedication are unwavering. Any time, day or night, he made himself available to help new firefighters become familiar with the department’s fire stations and equipment,” Cassou said.
The membership also votes on its captains to lead the department each year. The 2021 officers sworn in that evening included Support Team Leader Kevin Griffin, Captains Tony Arcangeli, Kevin Correira, David Schmid, Matthew West, Assistant Chief Frank Carey, Deputy Chief David Windle and Fire Chief Robbie Cassou.
The QVFD responded to 549 emergency calls in 2020. Not surprisingly, Gay once again topped the list going on 321 of those calls. He was followed closely by Auxiliary Firefighter Kaylee Chandler making it to 307 calls and Windle with 279 calls.
Special praise was also given to two members for increasing their personal responses this year by more then 50: Assistant Chief Frank Carey and Firefighter Robert Pierson.
Length of Service awards was given to Windle and Cassou, both with 40 years on the department; Carey, 20 years; and Gay with 10 years.
New recruits, firefighters
During the evening’s virtual live ceremonies the department’s newest certified firefighters were introduced: EMT Mary Arcangeli and Captain Tony Arcangeli.
The seven members of the Auxiliary Firefighters in training were also spotlighted: Anessa Arcangeli, Savannah Arcangeli, Sophia Becwar-Berry, Kaylee Chandler, Riley DuPont, Josh Mundy and Amy Weaver.
In addition to the department’s volunteer firefighters and support members, it has a paid staff of three that includes Chief Cassou, Administrative Secretary Karrie White and Charlie Read, facilities manager and mechanic.
Johnny Mansell, Andy Ryback and Mike Taborski are the fire district’s three commissioners.
The department is always looking for volunteers to become firefighters or a member of the support team. Chief Cassou encourages anyone interested in learning how to become a part of this family to talk to him or with one of the department’s other volunteers or staff.
2020 summary of operations
- Medical aid, rescues: 431
- Fire: 101
- Hazmat: 14
- Other calls: 3
Total response calls: 549
- Total response hours: 2,047
- Training hours: 1,429
- Support Team hours: 472
- Other volunteer hours: 696
Total volunteer hours: 4,173