The Westhampton Beach Junior Fire Department has been named the 2020 Youth Group of the Year by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY). The award was presented in a special ceremony via ZOOM on Sunday, September 13th by FASNY Past President Steven Klein and other FASNY officials. This honor is bestowed once per year upon a single youth group in New York State by FASNY’s committee on Youth in the Fire Service in recognition of the recipient’s dedication to both fire safety and community service.
“The Westhampton Beach Junior Fire Department received the FASNY Youth Group of the Year Award, and also received the National Volunteer Fire Council Award, in the same year,” noted Steve Klein, FASNY Former President. “These awards were chosen by two different committees after reviewing numerous applications. This is an outstanding achievement and a testament to the commitment of the officers and members of the department to support this program. Kudos to the advisors and the young adults of the Westhampton Beach Junior Fire Dept., for their accomplishments.’
The Westhampton Beach Fire Department Junior program allows youth the opportunity to gain technical skills they can apply toward a future career or as a volunteer in the fire and emergency services. An equal – if not greater – benefit to youth is the opportunity to develop and build teamwork and leadership skills, confidence, responsibility and the ability to stay calm in emergency situations.
These and other valuable life skills benefit youth as they navigate through teenage years and will continue to help them through whatever college/career path they choose and into adulthood. These skills are also important attributes to career or volunteer firefighters, which many Junior firefighters might one day become.
“On behalf of myself, the advisors & the membership of the fire department this is a great recognition from FASNY on winning this award,” said Paul Hoyle, Head Advisor for the Westhampton Beach Junior Fire Department. “The Juniors deserve the credit for their commitment to the program and to their community. They truly embody the meaning of giving-back.”
Junior firefighter program advisors serve as both mentors and coaches. In the coaching role, they instruct, teach and train Junior firefighters. They have to be a motivator, set goals and evaluate progress. As a coach, they instill discipline in Junior firefighters and educate them when they face challenges. This is preparation for the future of the fire service and through appropriate coaching and mentorship, they will respond to their first call as confident, ethically-minded and well-trained adults. Leadership, teamwork, responsibility and community service are inherent to training drills and other department and program activities.
The program has 28 members who are very dedicated to community events. They participated in the polar plunge in January and then in April, did community beach cleanup. In June the group rolled in the mud to raise money at the middle school. They helped set up the Cancer Hospice Gala in July and taught fire education at an open house in August. They participated in parades, watched over the fire pit at the village festival, and at the end of the year they baked cookies for widowers and senior members of the fire department as well as for the food pantry.
They have more than 1,015 hours of community service, activities and training in Firefighter 1 this past year. The Westhampton Beach Junior Fire Department truly embodies the meaning of giving back.
Founded in 1872, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) represents the interests of the approximately 110,000 volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel in New York State. For more information, visit www.fasny.com.