Firefighters, medics honored at annual banquet

CVFD also pays tribute to 343 NYC firefighters who died in 9/11 attack

CVFD Fire Chief Michael Hicks, left, and Deputy Chief Rob Mattson, right, presented Safety Officer and Firefighter Dick Groff with a commemorative plaque honoring his 45 years of service during the department’s awards banquet at the Powder House Feb. 9. Photo by Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson/for The Cordova Times

Firefighters and medics with the Cordova Volunteer Fire Department honored their own on Feb. 9, with a special tribute once again for 343 New York City firefighters who perished trying to rescue people in the World Trade Center complex during an attack by Islamic terrorists.

The annual CVFD awards banquet was held at the Powder House.

Firefighter Stephen Phillips rang a silver bell as firefighters and medics read the name and rank of the fallen New York firefighters.

“The courage and sacrifice of these 343 comrades are credited with saving over 18,000 lives on that fateful day and we must never forget the courage and unwavering devotion to duty that they demonstrated,” said Fire Chief Michael Hicks. “They truly went way above and beyond the call of duty so that so many others may live.”

Hicks also noted that in 2018, the fire department responded to 178 calls for fire, rescue and emergency medical services for a total of 5,549 volunteer member hours, Hicks said. The volunteer fire officers and EMS members also provided over 34,000 hours of community service.

“We had 122 ambulance runs and 56 fire runs this year,” Hicks said. “We responded to over 20 false alarms. We had eight actual fires, mostly minor in nature. One that could have been bad was a sauna fire at Bidarki Rec Center. There was one bow picker that received significant damage, two pickup trucks that were total losses. There was a dresser that caught fire, one stack fire, and one barbeque grill that got out of control, but caused no damage. There was also an electrical fire that caused minor damage.

“We had three rollover vehicle accidents with minor injuries, and one runaway truck,” Hicks said.

The runaway truck could have caused a serious mishap.

“An unoccupied truck in front of the old Alaska State Trooper office on Main Street rolled downhill, all the way through the school zone,” Hicks said. “It finally left the roadway near Chase Avenue and got stuck in some alder bushes. We stabilized it until it was removed by the city shop.”

“The amazing part of this story is that it was at lunchtime and rolled through the school zone. Fortunately, there were no pedestrians present. Everyone is accustomed to vehicles stopping for people in the crosswalk there,” Hicks said.

Several members of the department also received special awards:

James Thorne and Katherine Mead were awarded the CVFD 200 Club award for individuals who trained for more than 200 hours. CVFD Tenure awards went to Capt. Paul Trumblee, 20 years; Capt. Joanie Behrends, 30 years; Chief Michael Hicks, 30 years; and Safety Officer Richard Groff, 45 years. Firefighter James Thorne was honored with the Kent Thelen Award.

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Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson is a staff writer and photographer for The Cordova Times. She has been writing in one form or another for 30-plus years and has had a longstanding relationship with The Cordova Times starting in 1989. She's been an Alaskan since 1976 and first moved to Cordova in 1978. She's lived in various West Texas towns; in Denver, Colorado; in McGrath, Cordova, Galena, Kodiak, Wasilla, Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska and in Bangalore, India. She has two children and three grandchildren. She can be reached at cgibbens-stimson@thecordovatimes.com or follow her on Instagram @alaskatoindia.