Williamsburg firefighters feted for service at ceremony

  • Fire Chief Jason Connell poses with Paul Sanderson, a senior firefighter who has served with the department for 54 years. COURTESY OF LUKE ENRIGHT

Staff Writer
Published: 9/30/2021 11:28:03 AM

WILLIAMSBURG – On Tuesday the Fire Department held an awards ceremony for its members for perhaps the first time in the 21st century. Among the highlights of the event was the awarding of a 50-year service pin to Paul Sanderson, who has served with the department for 54 years.

“Last night was about recognizing the guys and women of the Fire Department,” Fire Chief Jason Connell said. 

The awards took place at Valley View Farm in Haydenville, which donated its space to the department free of charge. 

All members of the department were given certificates acknowledging their service, while those who had five years or more of service received service pins as well. Department members with 20 years or more of service also received certificates from the  Massachusetts Call/Volunteer Firefighters’ Association.

Connell became fire chief in Williamsburg in 2013, and he said that an awards ceremony hadn’t been held previously in his tenure. He said the last awards ceremony he recalls the department holding was in 1998.

Sanderson retired from the department as a lieutenant, but he still goes to calls as a senior firefighter. Counting his senior firefighter time, Sanderson has served 54 years in the Williamsburg Fire Department. However, because pins are given in five-year increments of service, Sanderson was given a 50-year pin.

An award for the responder that went to the most calls in a year, other than the chief, was also feted at the event. 

This award has been in the works for years, and the 2019 award went to Andre Barnes. The 2018 and 2020 awards went to Sanderson.

“I just do it,” Sanderson said, of his service.

Sanderson described his service as satisfying, and he said that when he comes back from every call he thinks about how he could have done better. He also said that being retired as a registered nurse allows him to go to more calls, and he finds a lot of crossover between the firefighting and nursing professions.

“There’s a lot of similarities,” he said.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

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