Friday, January 28, 2022

Celebration of Achievements



By Val Simon

The Marco Island Fire Rescue Department and the Marco Island Fire Foundation honored the years’ achievements, new employees and Firefighter of the year at a recent luncheon held at the Island Country Club. Foundation officers for 2015, Dianna Dohm, Roy Birkeland and Barb Murphy were sworn in by Council Chair Larry Sacher. An annual recap showed the Foundation built reserves to $100,000.00. A scholarship program has been initiated, a 50th Anniversary Book is underway and a Firemen’s Ball is in the works, this is in addition to the annual pancake breakfasts and the chili cook-off. Chief Murphy reported 2014 saw over 3,400 calls representing a 6.5% increase over the year prior. Department personnel earned 26 Phoenix Awards (recognition for someone who has brought a person back to life), the SS Jerry Adams responded to 90 calls for help and pulled 9 people out of the water. Captain Tom Bogan was honored as Naples Chamber Collier County’s Firefighter of the Year and islander Lieutenant Isabelle Favier was chosen as Naples Chamber Collier County’s Paramedic of the Year. CPR training was provided to 414 people. Public education will be the focus for 2015 particularly in public assistance. January and February have shown highest volume of calls ever with March possibly reaching over 400 calls. Sunshine Ace Hardware was chosen by Fire Marshall Ray Munyon as earning the Business Fire Safety of the Year award. While going through renovation, Sunshine Ace Hardware added sprinklers and fire alarms beyond code. Sunshine Ace Hardware’s Greg Roach accepted the award, thanking the department and saying they greatly appreciate the public service in this community. Promotional Pinning was next. Chief Murphy said it was a great honor to be selected to do the pinning. The pinning signifies the kinship in the department and being welcomed into the family. Deputy Chief Chris Byrne announced the promotions and the new hires. -Pat O’Gorman, was promoted to Engineer/Paramedic and was state certified in hazardous materials technician, pump operator, rescue diver and boat operator. Pat was pinned by his children Addison and Patrick. -Dustin Beatty, promoted to Captain, is a paramedic, has been certified as a hazardous materials technician, rescue diver and boat operator. He assisted the team in developing the boat specifications. He also handles some video/photo presentation work for the department. Dustin was pinned by his wife, Cheyanne. -Promoted to Division Chief, Dave Batiato, has spent 25 years in the department. He is a paramedic, certified as a hazardous materials technician, rescue diver, boat operator and is a dive team coordinator and now training officer. He has a bachelor’s degree in public administration management. Dave was pinned his son Kyle. The department saw four new hires this year: -First was Firefighter/EMT Jesse Yar
nell, a City of Marco Island employee for six years, was a water plant operator when he transferred to the Fire Department. He was pinned by his father, Rodney with badge number 97. -Firefighter/EMT Eric Griffin, joined the Marine Corps out of high school. He served for four years including in Afghanistan participating with Operation Enduring Freedom. He earned the rank of corporal and received several commendations. He was pinned by Blain Grissom with badge number 98. -Firefighter/EMT, Alex Correa, started with the Immokalee Fire Department, he gave up his position to save another firefighter’s job. He worked with the Isles of
Capri Fire Department before coming to Marco. His family fled Cuba when Alex was ten years old. Alex was pinned by Division Chief Dave Batiato with badge number 99. – Firefighter/EMT Nick Macchiarolo, is a local resident, who after high school, began taking courses in fire science, firefighter and EMT. Nick is a CPR Instructor and taught many of the 414 CPR students at the department. Nick’s following in his grandfather’s footsteps. He was a firefighter for the City of Yonkers, New York
for 34 years. His grandparents, maternal and paternal were on hand for the pinning as were his parents and brother. He was pinned by his fiancée, Gabriella Verderamo with badge number 100. Their oath was given by City Manager Roger Hernstadt. The highlight of the event was the declaration of the Firefighter of Year Award. Chief Murphy declared the candidate to be ‘like a boomerang’. “He had left the department to enter another calling, but like a boomerang, he knew to come home, and he did. He is more than a firefighter, he is a building block mason, ensuring the cor
nerstone of fire safety is there for our firefighters and the general public…. The firefighter of the year is a state certified arson investigator and responds to all fires to determine origin. He educates the youth in the stop, drop and roll program for the youth. He runs the Junior Firefighter of the Year program in the schools. One of his greatest traits is that he believes in what he does and he practices what he preaches. He has the highest ethics and morals. He is respected by his peers. He goes out of his way to help them and as the Chaplain and there in their time of need. The Fire Fighter of the Year is Ray Munyon. He a Champion of Public Safety.” Ray’s first comments were that he was
humbled because as he looked out at the audience there were many far more deserving. “I am thankful for what they do. We run into conflict but we try to handle it with grace and mercy as best they can.” Ray told a story about when he was hired in 1989, there was one slot open but he was told he’d have to work with the Fire Prevention Bureau. So he had a choice, work on the bureau or not get the job. “As a fireman, I was severely bummed, all I wanted to do was put the wet stuff on the red stuff. Yes, I am like a boomerang, I left the bureau several times and went back several times. I would tell the young guys, do not get tunnel-vision. Education is key, keep striving forward as fire service is changing constantly. Keep gaining knowledge so you can get promotional pins like these guys did today.” Ray thanked everyone in attendance. In closing, Dianna Dohm said it was an emotional afternoon and the Foundation appreciated everyone for joining in the celebration of achievements.


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