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Oakfield fire

August 25, 2022 - 9:40am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield fire, fire services, Oakfield, news, notify.

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There's always a job to do in the Oakfield Volunteer Fire Department -- or any volunteer fire department in the county -- and if you can do a job, there is a job for you to do.

You should volunteer.

Not every job involves rushing into burning buildings or pulling injured passengers from mangled cars. Some jobs involve keeping track of people and materials or just cleaning up the fire hall.  All the jobs help the department fulfill its mission of keeping Oakfield safe.

That was the message Department President Joshua Finn and Chief Sean Downing conveyed when they invited a couple of local reporters to the Fire Hall on Monday.

They also wanted to show off the department's new rec room, which is also integral to Oakfield's effort to recruit more members.

"Some of the things that we want to do is get video game systems up there and have it way more comfortable so that we can get younger kids to have a spot, a place to hang out," Finn said. "Why not hang out here and play video games? If they're at least 16 they're able to go on calls, or those that might be, say, 14 are not able to go, but they may be up here with their friend. Now their friend goes out on the call, they hang back. You know, we hope they think and say hey look, that's pretty cool. Their friend is gonna come back and kind of say, 'Hey, I was at this car accident. It was cool. I got to help save a life,' that sort of thing, because if that does happen, we're hoping that it translates into the kids that are upstairs wanting to join."

Besides the kids, Finn believes Oakfield is a community with a generous spirit.  He suggests there are more people in the community who could and would volunteer if they just understood the need and the opportunity.

"I look at our community especially, and we have a lot of great people," Finn said. "The Oakfield Betterment Committee. That organization is fantastic, the things they do. I look at Suzy Zeliff who's running The Goose here in town, and what she has produced is unbelievable. We have a lot of great community members, and there's so much that we (the department) can offer people. Like Sean said, we have maybe 20 members that legitimately will respond to a lot of the calls out of a population of 5,000 residents. That's half of 1 percent."

An example of somebody from the community stepping forward to fill a need that wasn't being met was Ed Spence, a retired City of Batavia firefighter, who offered to become the department's chaplain.  He's helped a lot, being somebody for members to talk with after difficult scenes and performing religious functions within the department, Finn said. 

Downing noted Oakfield is not unique among local volunteer departments and maybe a little bit better off on staffing than some others, but that doesn't mean the need for more people in all parts of the organization isn't real.

"Everybody is struggling to get people during the day," Downing said. "You might get two people. Other times you get an EMS call for a stubbed toe or something and we get 13 people showing up. So, I mean, it's like it's feast or famine. So what we're trying to do is entice new members to come into the department."

Both Downing and Finn acknowledge that the training requirements for a firefighter or EMT can be pretty daunting, which is why they're suggesting people look for other ways they can help the department (though they also need people to join willing to go through that department).  They're also working with the county to find ways to streamline the training for people who might be willing to respond to a fire scene to help but not actually get involved in fighting the fire.  They can drive trucks, run pumps, help with hoses, and get nowhere near the fire.  But there are still risks involved in being on a fire scene, so some training is essential. 

Volunteers can also help with social media, fundraisers, and with serving on the fire board.  Finn mentioned one local businessman who has a family member in the department that he's hoping will take an interest in becoming a board member. His business experience could be invaluable, Finn summarizes, and with the financial strains in the department, more business experience on the board could be helpful.

"As years go on, one of the things that I've brought up is this building isn't getting any younger," Finn said. "We don't have a plan right now. That's one of the things that we've been talking about."

Clearly, Downing and Finn hope people will read this article and decide to at least explore the idea of helping out the Oakfield Volunteer Fire Department, or the department of the town where they live, and Downing encourages readers to visit ReadyGenesee.com.

"Come check us out," Finn said. "Come check us out on a Monday night. We're here. If you live in Genesee, on a Monday night, every county department in Genesee County has either a meeting or a training night. Check out your department. Everybody in the community knows somebody who's a member, ask them what they need. Find somebody that you know on Facebook.

"Especially in a small town like Oakfield, everybody knows somebody. You know, there are so many different things that we need help doing," he said. "Come check us out. And you know, there are so many things that go on in the volunteer fire service that people don't realize. Come check us out."

PreviouslyNew report addresses growing crisis in county's fire and EMS coverage

Top Photo: Oakfield members and family members hang out in the department's new rec room on the second floor of the Fire Hall.

Photos by Howard Owens.

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Chief Sean Downing, Jamie Lindsley, president of the Oakfield Betterment Committee, Joel D'Alba, owner of Albion Pools, Tonisha and Andrew Pilc, Mike Harding, Attica Furniture, and Joshua Finn, president of the department's board of directors.

The rec room cost in excess of $12,000 was paid for almost entirely by donations and volunteer labor.  The Oakfield Betterment Committee was able to use its non-profit status to be a recipient of donations, such as $5,800 from The Home Depot.  D'Alba, an Oakfield resident, and somebody who would volunteer if training requirements could be modified so he could drive a truck and run a pump, made a cash donation.  Tonisha and Andrew supplied both volunteer labor and the effort and inspiration to get the project off the ground from consulting with local developers to lining up donations.  Harding made a cash donation and also donated the eagle and flag painting to hang in the rec room.

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Photos of what the second-floor room looked like before the remodel.

June 10, 2022 - 2:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield fire, Oakfield, news.

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Looks can be deceptive.  That's not a can of Budweiser in a firefighter's hand.  It's a cold drink of water courtesy of Anheuser-Busch.

Joshua Finn, president and a captain with Oakfield Volunteer Fire Department, heard about a program run by Anheuser-Busch to provide cans of drinking water to volunteer firefighting companies so he applied on the behalf of Oakfield Fire.

Then he forgot about the application.

On Tuesday, he was notified to expect a special delivery.  the next day, 98 cases of canned drinking water arrived at the department. 

"This water will be used for events and emergencies as well as shared with our neighboring departments," Finn said. 

Anheuser-Busch says that since the program began, the company has donated 4.8 million cans of emergency drinking water to more than 900 volunteer fire departments across 49 states.

Submitted photos.

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February 22, 2022 - 8:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield fire, Oakfield, news.

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For all of the past 50 years, Robert "Buck" Hilchey has done it all for the Oakfield Fire Department, from being on scene for the biggest fires, serving as chief twice, serving as board president twice, to spearheading the drive for softball fields, and maintaining them, as a fundraiser for the department.

For his 50 years of service, Hilchey was given a watch and proclamations and resolutions from the NYS Senate, NYS Assembly, Village of Oakfield, and the Firefighters Association of the State of New York.

"The trustees and the mayor of the Village of Oakfield urge all citizens to join us in congratulating Buck on an outstanding record of service with the Oakfield Fire Department," the village resolution read, "and expressing our sincere appreciation to him for his unwavering dedication and service to the Village of Oakfield."

Hilchey is from a family of firefighters -- father, uncles, sons, and now even a granddaughter.  He got a bit emotional during his thank-you speech.

"It's been a pleasure to serve the community. I started off with my father, my uncle's grandfather," Hilchey said. "I just filled what they taught me to do. It was part of our life."

Then, tearing up a bit, "I'm a weak man, Danny knows. My sons know. My sons have followed in my footsteps, Brad is a chief and Chad is an assistant chief. I'm proud of these guys. Thank you."

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Chad Hilchey presents a proclamation from FASNY to his father, Buck Hilchey.

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Chief Sean Downing, President Joshua Finn, 3rd Assistant Chief Chad Hilchey, Buck Hilchey, Brad Hilchey, 1st Assistant Chief Chad Williams, and 2nd Assistant Chief Pete Scheiber.

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Monday was the first time since 2019 that members of the department have been able to come together to hand out service awards. Above, 2nd Assistant Chief Pete Scheiber is recognized for 35 years of service.

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Jim Lundmark and Dan Luker were recognized for 35 years of service.  Also, Doug Hensel was recognized for 45 years of service (the photographer did not succeed in getting a photo of Hensel).

June 26, 2018 - 10:59am
posted by Virginia Kropf in Oakfield, Oakfield fire, news.

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For the second time in a month, Oakfield firefighters paid a visit to the home of Luis and Elizabeth Chavez, of Lewiston Road, Oakfield.

On May 28, firefighters were called to assist Mercy EMS for a woman in labor. They arrived to find Elizabeth had delivered a baby girl on the bathroom floor.

Monday night, firefighters driving a fire truck and rescue vehicle returned to the home bearing gifts for the newborn and her family.

It was around 3 a.m. May 28 when the call came in, said firefighter Josh Finn. He, Chief Sean Downing and Jeff McIntire responded.

Elizabeth had been in labor and when the contractions got close, her husband went to take their son to his parents in Medina, intending to return and take Elizabeth to the hospital.

“I walked in the door and I heard her yelling,” Luis said. “I thought that must have really been a bad contraction. Then I heard a baby cry.”

Leyla weighed 7 pounds 7 ounces and was 19 inches long, her mother said.

Elizabeth had called her mother Dawn Videan, of Batavia, who had planned to be with Elizabeth during the birth. It was Videan who called 9-1-1.

“Mom was with me, but on speaker phone,” Elizabeth said.

The Oakfield firemen were having a training session last week when they started discussing the call to the Chavez home.

“We wondered why we hadn’t gone back to see them and get a picture of the baby,” Finn said. “Then we thought it would be nice to go see them in a fire truck and take them some gifts. It’s not every day you get to be part of bringing a life into the world. I have two girls myself, and I know how special it is.”

Top photo: Members of the Oakfield Fire Department paid a visit to Elizabeth and Luis Chavez, center, in a fire truck and rescue vehicle Monday night to bring them some baby gifts.

From left are Collin Scheiber, Noah Toal, Josh Finn, Casey Arnold, Bill Sturgeon, Pete Scheiber, Kurtis Griswold and Sean Downing. The firemen responded with Mercy EMS to the home a month ago after Elizabeth gave birth on the bathroom floor.

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Firefighter Josh Finn, left, and Chief Sean Downing, right, pose with Elizabeth and Luis Chavez at their home Monday night. Finn and Downing were two of the Oakfield firefighters who responded to the Chavez home a month ago when baby Leyla was born.

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Kurtis Griswold, a member of the Oakfield Fire Department, hands a gift bag to Elizabeth Chavez, holding her 4-week-old daughter Leyla. The firemen showed up at the Chavez home on Lewiston Road Monday night with a bag of gifts after responding to a 9-1-1 call when Elizabeth went into labor. She delivered the baby on the bathroom floor minutes before first responders arrived.

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Elizabeth and Luis Chavez, of Oakfield, pose with their 4-week-old daughter Leyla and 2-year-old son Emmitt on the deck of their home on Lewiston Road. The couple received a visit Monday night from members of the Oakfield Fire Department, who brought a bag of gifts after responding to the home a month ago when Elizabeth went into labor.

March 4, 2016 - 10:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield fire, Oakfield, news.

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Oakfield Fire Department has a new pumper. Well, not new, exactly. It's what's called a demo model, so it's like new, but allows the department to upgrade at a lower price.

The department spent $356,000 on the new engine, which is red, continuing the department's evolution away from lime green apparatus.  

The pumper is "an attack truck." It will be dispatched first to the scene of a fire for equipment and manpower. It's a side pumper and cab-over, which increases cargo space as well as personnel space.

The department took delivery of the new engine last night and expects to have it in service in about a week.

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Fire Chief Pete Scheiber hands over a check for the new engine to Rick Chick, sales rep for Churchville Fire Equipment. Also pictured, Fire District President Jeff McIntire.

January 14, 2016 - 12:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, Oakfield fire.

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The Oakfield Fire Department is installing solar panels on the roof of its fire hall.

Assistant Chief and Board Member Sean Downing said the project came about through a conversation a department member had at work at the U.S. Gypsum plant with the brother of an area solar installer. That started the process of the department learning about the cost-saving benefits of solar, especially with the government incentives available to cover the cost of installation, along with incentives offered by solar companies. As a result, there's no cost to the department and over the next 25 years, the department stands to save about $95,000 on electric costs.

"It was kind of a no-brainer," Downing said. "It doesn't cost us anything, not for engineering, not for installation, there's no out-of-pocket expenses, and for a project that is going to cover nearly all of our electric expenses."

The solar installation is being handled by CIR Electrical Construction Corporation, out of Lackawanna.

Interestingly, there has been some concern among firefighters about the increasing number of solar power installations in the state. They present a safety hazard to firefighters and make it more difficult for firefighters to cut a hole in a roof for ventilation, a key fire-fighting strategy. As a result, New York is considering limits on solar panel installations

CIR is using new technology that mitigates some of these difficulties, said Jeff Pedro, CFO for CIR.

"We are using SolarEdge inverters which have a rapid shutdown function on their inverters," Pedro said. "This really was brought about by firemen and is part of the 2014 NEC code for PV systems."

The safety features are designed to allow rapid shutdown of electrical flow by first responders.

Top photo, courtesy Norris Clifton Aerial Photography.

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