STEVENSVILLE — The Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department held its 70th birthday dinner and installation of 2017 officers Saturday evening, Feb. 11, at the Kent Island American Legion, Post 278, in Stevensville.

Besides achieving the milestone of serving the community for the past 70 years (1947-2017), KIVFD Chaplain, Pastor Bobby Timms (of KI United Methodist Church) used the word “calling” in the closing prayer he offered during the program. Timms said, “Bless those of you who have answered the calling to serve the community, the same as if you were given a calling in the church.” A “calling” in the spiritual sense comes from God, and those who serve God do so with a burning passion of service for those they have been called to protect. It has been noted by many in the community that those who serve in the volunteer fire departments do so “religiously” with clear devotion.

Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Mark Anderson took special notice of this devotion, telling the audience, “What type of people run into a building that’s on fire!? You’re the kind of people I’m proud and honored to be here with this evening.” Anderson presented two checks to the fire department as he made his remarks, one check from KI Elks Lodge 2576 (where he has been a longtime member) and the other from the local homeowners association where he resides.

Anderson also recognized his fellow commission members: Robert Buckey, Jim Moran and current Commission President Steve Wilson, who were all present at the event. He added, “I’m sure I speak for all the other commissioners when I say this about what kind of people you are, including Commissioner Jack Wilson who is at a similar program this evening in his district. One hundred percent, we all support you!”

Buckey, who is the county government liaison to KIVFD, stated prior to the banquet, “The commissioners approved funding to all of the county fire departments for new computers to be installed in all the fire trucks. Those new computers should be here within the next month.”

Statistics for 2016 were reported by Life Safety Officer Dave Reid at the beginning of the program. Reid said, “We responded to 1,328 calls this past year, about 200 less than the year before.”

On a PowerPoint projection, Reid showed the percentages of what types of emergency calls came in: EMS/Rescue; Good Intent, 17 percent; Hazardous Condition, 4 percent; False Alarm, 4 percent; Fire, 5 percent; and Other, 1 percent. Reid credited the drop in overall calls to “possibly a safer community.” The average response time for calls was seven minutes (from time of dispatch to first unit arrival on scene).

The KIVFD membership profile currently includes 86 volunteer members, 12 employees, 3 cadets and 21 Ladies Auxiliary members.

Reid said, “Considering this is our 70th year as a fire department, my best approximation is that we have responded to 50,000 calls in all the years the fire department has been in existence. I want to commend those who had the vision to create this local fire department back in 1947.”

Ladies Auxiliary President Shirley Sperl added a little more to the history of the fire department when she spoke. She said, “The Ladies Auxiliary started with the creation of the fire department in 1947 with 106 members. Records show the first fundraiser the ladies did back then raised $500, which was a lot of money back in those days, to help buy the fire department’s first ambulance. We’ve always helped with fundraising to support the fire department.”

Sperl then presented a check to KIVFD President Jody Schulz for $20,000.

Awards of service for 2016 followed. The Life Safety Award was presented to Tracy Schulz. Provider of the Year went to Zack George. Employee of the Year was Debra Hayden. The Duke Moore Firefighter of the Year Award went to Kristina Severa. The Jim Beavers Award went to the Ambulance Committee made up of Terry Pinder, Paul Schlotterbeck, Scherry Schlotterbeck, Link George and Dave Reid. It was the first time that award was presented to a group.

Also a group award this year, the Chief’s Award went to the “Saturday Night Duty Crew,” made up of many of the youngest members of the KIVFD who were consistently on duty every Saturday night, training and working around the fire house year-round.

Top 10 fire call responders were recognized: Holden Schulz, 225 calls; Austin Patterson, 226; Kristina Severa, 229; Jody Schulz, 246; Jamie Majors, 281; Robert Sullivan, 319; Buddy Thomas, 393; Mills Yslas, 561; Tracy Schulz, 603; and Dave “Pops” Gellert, 694. “Pops” has been the top responder at KIVFD multiple times.

Numerous “Years of Service” awards were presented, among them, Tom Balderson reached the 20-year mark, qualifying him as a Life Member, and both Lou Johnson and “Pops” Gellert were recognized for achieving 30 years of service.

The President’s Award went to Gus Peckaitis, and Associate Member of the Year was presented to Jenn Walters by KIVFD President Jody Schulz.

KIVFD Fire Chief Buddy Thomas recognized the devoted service of Chip Nash for the work he does around the fire house weekly. Thomas present Nash with a fire department “Engine 12” sweatshirt.

Among the donations to the fire department, former KI American Legion Commander Nikki Randolph presented a total of $16,000 in checks: $10,000 directly to the fire department, $2,500 to the Ladies Auxiliary, $2,500 to the EMS division, and $1,000 to the Cadet group. Randolph praised KIVFD for their work, and Jody Schulz remarked, “We have an amazing working relationship between the Legion and fire department.”

To conclude for formal program, longtime Maryland State Fireman’s Association officer Bill Hildebrand administered the oath of office to the 2017 officers for the fire department.

Numerous “awards of dishonor” were jokingly presented by 2nd Assistant Chief Paul Schlotterbeck to a number of members of the fire department. Schlotterbeck has turned this presentation into a tradition during the banquet which results in many moments of laughter.

The banquet meal was provided by Smoke House Grill catering service, serving prime rib and chicken marsala, along with salad, steamed green beans, baked potato and dinner rolls. Dessert pastries and a 70th anniversary fire department cake was made by Peace of Cake Bakery of Stevensville.

Music was provided by local DJ Al Wysong.

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