“Old Time” Firefighters Honored by Fire Chiefs

left vto right Chief's Assn president Harold Straut (Nanuet FD), Thomas Alworth, and Past Chief's Assn. president Anthony Massaro.

Five firefighters were honored Saturday at the Rockland County Fire Chief’s Association’s Old-Timers Awards Night and dinner held at the Sloatsburg FD firehouse. More than 200 current and former Rockland fire chiefs gathered to honor their own at the annual event on this, the Association’s 60th anniversary.

The Active Chief’s Award was given to George Zayas, the outgoing Chief of the West Haverstraw FD in recognition of his participation in the Fire Chief’s Association and for his outstanding dedication to his community. In one year, Zayas dealt with a fire in an illegally-converted house that almost killed one of his officers; a building collapse, flood, electrical sub-station blaze and exposed high-pressure gas line that caused the evacuation of a neighborhood, all during Hurricane Irene; and a gas main explosion that sent two of his firefighters to the hospital in January.

The Jerome Trachtenberg Award went to Stuart Gates of the Stony Point FD. The award is presented to a person who promotes outstanding service to the RCFCA. It is named for the late attorney Jerome Trachtenberg, founder of the county’s Legal Aid Society and dean of Rockland’s legal community. He practiced in the county for almost 60 years.

The Charles “Smoky” Fales Award was presented to Thomas Alworth of the Nyack FD’s Orangetown Engine Co. Candidates must be senior members who are still active in their department and other firematic associations including committees and community service. Alworth, at 80 years old, is still an active driver in his fire company, which he joined in the late 1940s. The award is named for Charles M. Fales, a former fire chief of the Haverstraw Fire Department who also served the Stony Point Fire Department. Fales was the county’s first fire coordinator in 1948, and was a volunteer for 67 years.

The William V. Harris Award was given to Sheryl Rose, training secretary at the Rockland County Fire Training Center, in appreciation for her service beyond the call of duty, for the Rockland County Fire Service. Harris, a 40-year Pearl River FD member and twice its chief, owned W. Harris & Son contracting. He and his company responded with equipment to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the World Trade Center and spent nine months at the site in lower Manhattan. Harris was diagnosed with mercury poisoning and died in September 2008 at the age of 57.

This year’s recipient of the Andrew A. Fredericks Instructor of the Year Award was fire instructor Frank Jewett of the Nyack FD. He is a county and state fire instructor. The award is named for Andrew A. Fredericks, a nationally-known fire instructor and former volunteer with the Suffern Fire Department. Fredericks was a member of Squad Company 18 of the New York Fire Department who was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

The Past Presidents Award was presented to Anthony Massaro of the Sloatsburg FD, in recognition of his distinguished and outstanding leadership, dedication and service as president of the Rockland County Fire Chief’s Association the last two years.