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Stafford Fire recognizes top responders in 2023, installs 2024 officers at annual dinner

By Howard B. Owens
stafford fire dinner 2024

For 2023, the Firefighter of the Year in the Stafford Volunteer Fire Department was a collective award, going to the Top 10 responders (11 members, counting a tie) for the year.

The Firefighters of the Year are Brian Breemes, Randal Henning, Tim Eckdahl, Chris Penkszyk, Mark Dougherty, Ashley Swartzenberg, Jason Smith, Ken Collins, Brian Pocock, Don Hall, and Ben Pocock.

The firematic officers installed for 2024 are:

  • Timothy Eckdahl, chief
  • Brian Pocock, 1st assistant chief
  • Brian Breemes, 2nd assistant chief
  • Kari Breemes, 3rd assistant chief
  • Jason Smith, 4th assistant chief
  • Randal Henning, rescue squad captain
  • Chad Rambach, rescue squad lietuenent 
  • Donald Hall, fire police captain
  • Ben Fox, fire police lieutenant
  • Brian Pocock, master mechanic
  • Brian Breemes and Matt Hendershott, training officers
  • Julie Bobo and Ashley Swartzenberg, chief's secretary

The administrative officers: 

  • James Call, president
  • Kari Breemes, vice president
  • Bonnie Logsdon, secretary
  • Stephanie Call, treasurer
  • Trustees: Stanley Gere, Jason Smith, Ashley Swartzenberg, Chad Rambach, Stephanie Call
  • Auditors: Ben Fox and Kenneth Collins.

The dinner was held on Saturday at the Batavia Country Club.

Photos by Howard Owens

stafford fire dinner 2024

Comptroller's audit recommends Stafford Fire's directors improve financial management of department

By Howard B. Owens

While finding no malfeasance or misuse of public funds, a NYS Comptroller's Audit is critical of the Board of Directors of the Stafford Volunteer Fire Department for its handling of financial planning.

The comptroller's key findings include inadequate revenue estimates for 2021, 2022, and 2023, a lack of realistic budgets, and no written multiyear financial or capital plan to help guide budget development.

The lack of proper revenue estimates meant the district had extra revenue that could have been better allocated to capital projects, particularly fire truck replacements, the report states.  

In the three audit years, the board failed to include in its revenue estimates funds from farmland leasing, interest income, fire insurance tax proceeds, donations, and fire hall rental. In 2022, that amounted to $36,577 in revenue that wasn't included in financial planning.

"We compared the budget with actual expenses for 2021 and 2022. The operating budget was underestimated by $29,667 (10 percent) in 2021 and $33,298 (11 percent) in 202," the report states.

In response to the audit, Board President James Call said the district treasurer did share more than once the district's truck replacement plan, the comptroller's auditors determined the report was outdated.

The budget for 2023 also did not include a line item for buildings and ground maintenance, which in prior years exceeded $50,000.  

"The Treasurer told us," the report states, "these were errors in the budget and that she corrected them after we brought the omissions to her attention. The Treasurer also provided us with a corrected copy of the 2023 budget. The corrected budget increased the amount budgeted for building and grounds maintenance to $40,000 and decreased the amount budgeted for insurance to $40,000, and further decreased the firematic budgeted amount by $20,000."

Auditors determined that board members were not adequately involved in the budgeting process and oversight of monthly expenses.

The auditors issued these recommendations, which Call, in his letter, said the board will implement.

  1. Review and adopt structurally balanced budgets that contain realistic revenue and expense estimates.
  2. Present the budget to the membership for a vote, as required by the bylaws.
  3. Review the monthly financial reports provided by the treasurer and actively monitor the department’s spending.
  4. Consider having Department officers attend applicable and beneficial training sessions to obtain a better understanding of their duties. 
  5. Develop a written multiyear financial and capital plan to establish long-term goals and objectives for funding and long-term capital needs. This plan should be monitored and updated on an ongoing basis, and any funds already set aside for capital assets should be designated as such by board action.

Stephanie Call honored as Stafford's Firefighter of the Year

By Howard B. Owens


Genesee County's first female fire chief, Stephanie Call, was named Firefighter of the Year for the Stafford Fire Department at the department's annual awards and installation banquet Saturday night.

Matt Hendershott, who takes over as chief in 2020, praised Call for her hard work and dedication, her countless hours of service, often behind the scenes doing the administrative work necessary to keep the department running, as well as her leadership and inspiration.

He also singled out an incident at Call's place of employment in Le Roy on Dec. 15 when an employee collapsed. Call found the coworker unresponsive on the floor and began CPR. She stayed with her coworker until police and EMS arrived.

Hendershott quoted the victim, "My family sees Stephanie as the woman who saved my life."


Ken Collins received the Chief's Award for his service to the department.

Stafford fire responded to 289 calls in 2019, up 17 percent from 2018. The top responder was Hendershott, who went to 145 calls.


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