Firefighters at volunteer Station 10 in Coarsegold's Yosemite Lakes Park celebrating 30 years of service this year were recognized during a June 20 ceremony and dinner at the station.
"Thank you for your commitment and your family's sacrifice," said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Chris Christopherson, who spoke at the ceremony. "We really rely heavily on PCFs (paid-call firefighters, commonly referred to as volunteers) and without them, we would not have the ability to keep fires as small as they are. They need to be commended."
Before firefighters were recognized by Chris Haynes, Station 10 captain, Haynes talked about his firefighters depth of sacrifice, service and courage.
Haynes presented Paul Cliby with the department's "Firefighter of the Year" award, applauding him for his professionalism and dedication.
Cliby has worked as a fire engineer in Fresno for 35 years, drives a school bus, donates food weekly to people who are less fortunate, and his fire marshal training has enabled him to lead new trainings at the station.
Haynes also promoted three veteran Station 10 firefighters, adding that many have been acting in their roles informally for years.
Brian Donaghy was promoted to first lieutenant as an operator/engine driver, and was also honored for 10 years of service. Haynes said his response rate to emergencies is "extremely high," that "he is a cornerstone to our station" and is "an honorable person and a good family man."
Randy Myers was promoted to second lieutenant, as the station's treasurer. Myers is carrying on the tradition in his family, since his father was a firefighter for the City of Fresno.
Helen George, who has served for 17 years, the longest of anyone at the station, was also promoted to second lieutenant and is the station's secretary.
Haynes said George is one of the most peaceful, loving and nice people he knows: "I've never heard her say a bad thing about anyone ever. And I've known her for five years."
Christopher "Gus" Lavell was pinned with Engineer bars, and also recognized for 10 years of service to the Madera County Fire Department. He recently transferred to Station 10 from Station 1.
"Their loss is our gain," Haynes said.
New volunteer firefighters recognized at the ceremony were Sean Kelly a fifth grade teacher at Madera Unified School District and Erik Lawson who works full-time at Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp.
Elayne Myers, wife of firefighter Randy Myers, was also honored for her work with the fire auxiliary.
"She doesn't want to be singled out or have a title, but she has helped unify and build our auxiliary, our support services and our fundraising network and marketing," Haynes said.
YLP community service organization Ladies of the Lake, led by president Sue Corcoran, was also thanked for their support of Station 10.
The 14-member station has made many new strides this year, along with new trainings, they purchased new equipment, held more fundraisers, built-up their fire auxiliary, and became a non-profit 501c3 organization.
They continue to raise money for more needed equipment and a new wildland fire engine, since their Engine 210 was taken out of service due to mechanical problems.
Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to the non-profit "Yosemite Lakes Volunteer Firefighters" at 29453 Glacier Drive, Coarsegold CA 93614.
Those interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter can call Madera County Fire Department's administrative office at (559) 675-7799, Christopherson said.
Christopherson said volunteer firefighters are a "priceless" gift to the county.
"In Madera County, we are one fire department," Christopherson said. "We all work together (Cal Fire and volunteers) to provide a good service."