New York State
Association of Fire Chiefs

Providing Service to Those Who Serve

Scholarship & Awards

The 2024 deadline passed on April 1. Award recipients will be announced soon and recognized at the 118th Annual Conference & FIRE 2024 Expo in June.

Scholarship Program

NYSAFC established this scholarship program to enhance, through academic achievement at the college level, the quality of leadership in the fire and emergency services, life safety field, and public safety field and to assist association Individual Members (and their spouses and children) in their efforts to pursue academic advancement. Scholarships will be awarded in memory of Executive Director Emeritus Ward A. Bohner and his wife, Janice R. Bohner, and in memory of Past President Anthony J. “Andy” Messina for their many years of dedicated service to the association. Tuition assistance is offered based upon merit to Individual Members of NYSAFC (and their spouses and children) pursuing degrees (full or part time) at an accredited institution of higher education. The Messina Scholarship is awarded to students working toward an emergency services degree (fire science, EMS, emergency management, etc.) and the Bohner Scholarship is awarded to those pursuing a general course of study in any other field.

2023 Scholarship Recipients/Fire Department Affiliations:
Firefighter Bailey Vooris (Best-Luther Fire Department)
Firefighter Noah Hirschhorn (Briarcliff Manor Fire Department)

Chief Neil McNeight Hands-On Training Award

This award program was established by the Chautauqua County & Monroe County Fire Chiefs Hospitality Committee in memory of Past President Neil McNeight, a 60-year member of the association and 64-year member of the Fredonia Fire Department. It is intended to advance firefighter training by funding the registration of qualified and deserving students in the NYSAFC Hands-On Training program conducted in conjunction with the association’s Annual Conference & FIRE Expo. The award program, open to NYSAFC Individual and Department Members, will include enrollment in the Hands-On Training session of the recipient’s choice (based on availability), as well as hotel accommodations for two nights and a meal stipend.

2021 – Lieutenant Jessica Canary (East Aurora Fire Department)
2021 – Captain Jennie Smith (Lancaster Fire Department)
2023 – Lieutenant Adam Ahrens (Fredonia Fire Department)


Chief Fred W. Singer Fire Educator of the Year Award

The Fire Educator of the Year Award is presented annually in memory of Past President Fred W. Singer, a 40-year member of the Vestal Fire Department who was a highly regarded teacher and champion of firefighter safety and training. This award recognizes outstanding effort in fire service training and education. Any NYSAFC Individual Member who is a fire service instructor providing training within the state of New York at the state, county, or department level is eligible for the award.

1999 – Greg Tiner (Onondaga County)
2000 – Mark A. Warfle (Owego Fire Department/Tioga County)
2001 – William J. Herman (Rockland County)
2002 – Andrew A. Fredericks (FDNY/Rockland County)
2003 – Richard A. French (Defreestville Fire Department/Rensselaer Co.)
2004 – Thomas W. Bierds (Rockland Lake Fire Department/Rockland Co.)
2005 – Glen Miller (Dundee Fire Department/Yates Co.)
2006 – Steven L. Herberger (Getzville Fire Co./Erie Co.)
2012 – Paul C. Melfi (City of Olean Fire Department)
2013 – Robert T. Burns (FDNY)
2016 – William Perritt (Hartsdale Fire District) & Scott Pike (Stratton Air National Guard Base)
2018 – James McCann (Orange County Division of Fire Services)
2019 – Edward Fletcher (NYS Office of Fire Prevention & Control)
2022 – Samuel Usborne (Cazenovia Fire Department)
2023 – Gregory R. Timmons (Peru Fire Department)

James W. Wright Public Education Award

This award is presented annually in memory of Public Education Committee Chairman James W. Wright, a 53-year member of the Norwich Fire Department. The award, which Jim helped to initiate in 1995, was renamed in 2009 in appreciation of his many years of commitment to fire/injury prevention and fire/life safety education. It recognizes an individual, emergency services agency, or community organization for innovation and exceptional effort in fire/injury prevention and fire/life safety public education, with the goal of raising awareness about unique programs for the benefit of other educators.

1995 – Schuyler County Firemen’s Association
1996 – Oneida County Firemen's Association
1997 – Rockville Centre Fire Department
1998 – Carnegie School Program – Syracuse
2000 – Greenwich Fire Department
2001 – Lancaster Fire Department
2002 – Lake Mohegan Fire Department
2003 – Beekmantown Fire Department
2004 – Floyd & Stittville Volunteer Fire Departments
2005 – Roosevelt Fire Department
2006 – Grand Island Fire Company
2007 – Cattaraugus Fire Department
2008 – Vestal Fire Department
2009 – Central Islip Fire Department
2010 – Firefighter Christopher Halliday/Manlius Fire Department
2011 – White Plains Fire Bureau
2012 – NYSAFC 2011 Smoke Alarm Project Partners (20 fire departments)
2013 – Cobleskill Fire Department
2014 – Whitesboro Fire Department Fire Prevention & Life Safety Team
2015 – Oriskany Volunteer Fire Department
2016 – Cranesville Volunteer Fire Department
2017 – Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company, Inc.
2018 – Captain Larry Dawson (Hagaman Volunteer Fire Department)
2019 – Fairview Fire District
2022 – Francis Stepien (Onondaga County Fire Prevention Education Center)
2023 – Lieutenant Nicholas Persons (Niskayuna Fire District No. 1)

New York State Fire Chief of the Year Awards

The Fire Chief of the Year Awards are presented to recognize association Individual Members for demonstration of exemplary leadership that has not only benefited an individual fire department, but also the emergency services of New York state. Each year, NYSAFC honors a career fire chief and a volunteer fire chief from the Empire State with these prestigious awards. Honorees are chosen based upon demonstration of outstanding leadership, innovation, professional development, integrity, service to the public, and contributions to the fire and emergency services.

Career Fire Chief of the Year Award Recipients:
2004 – Daniel J. Gaumont (City of Watertown Fire Department)
2005 – Peter E. Hayden (FDNY)
2006 – Harold J. “Bud” Phillips (Ridge Road Fire District)
2012 – Joseph M. Fahd Jr. (Cohoes Fire Department)
2014 – James P. Maxwell (Batavia Fire Department)
2015 – Jeff Dygert (Auburn Fire Department)
2016 – James R. Comstock (Henrietta Fire District)
2017 – Thomas M. Cain (Scarsdale Fire Department)
2018 – Dale Herman (City of Watertown Fire Department)
2019 – Edward Rush (Hartsdale Fire District)
2021 – Mark Strzyzynski (Henrietta Fire District)
2022 – Howard Reiss (Fairview Fire District)
2023 – Michael J. Monds (Syracuse Fire Department)

Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year Award Recipients:
2004 – Gregory R. Becker (Milan Volunteer Fire Department)
2005 – John J. Maguire (Freeport Fire Department)
2008 – Thomas E. Rothdiener (Oriskany Fire Department)
2013 – Martin J. Ingram (Point Breeze Vol. Fire Department)
2014 – Christopher O’Brien (Bellmore Fire Department)
2016 – Thomas W. Gies (Merrick Fire Department)
2017 – Joseph E. O’Grady (Floral Park Fire Department)
2018 – Frank D. Nestle (Canajoharie Volunteer Fire Department)
2019 – William Maloney (Speigletown District Volunteer Fire Company)
2021 – Daniel J. Schwertfeger (Floyd Fire Department)
2022 – Daniel M. Crossway (Maynard Fire Department)
2023 – William R. Fries Sr. (Hammondsport Fire Department)

Presidential Achievement Award

This award, established in 2015, will be presented solely upon the recommendation of the NYSAFC president. It is intended to recognize special achievement that benefits the fire service or demonstrates outstanding effort by a chief, past chief, officer, or firefighter that goes above and beyond the normal course of duty.

2015 – Ex-Chief Owen Magee (Hicksville Fire Department)
2015 – Chief Chris DePaoli (Irvington Fire Department)
2018 – New York State Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi
2018 – New York State Senator Joseph A. Griffo
2018 – Firefighter Sean Patrick O’Gorman (City of Oswego Fire Department)
2019 – Chief Thomas C. Hetherington (NYS OFPC, Churchville Fire Department, & Middlesex Fire Department)
2019 – Chief Robert Hulse (Bay Shore Fire Department)
2021 – Assistant Chief/Paramedic Kurt Maytum (Fredonia Fire Department), Firefighter/EMT Patrick Ossman (City of Dunkirk Fire Department), 3rd Assistant Chief Adam Reisenweber (West Dunkirk Fire Department), Paramedic Mike Schwertfeger (Chautauqua County), Firefighter/EMT Tony Thomas (City of Dunkirk Fire Department), Firefighter/Medic Timothy Winters (Fredonia Fire Department), and Firefighter Jason Ziegler (West Dunkirk Fire Department)
2022 – Ex-Chief Thomas McGregor (Selden Fire Department)
2022 – Chief (Ret.)/Ex-Chief Thomas J. Richardson (FDNY/Deer Park Fire Department)
2023 – 2nd Assistant Chief Christopher Ciaccio (Commack Fire Department)

Save Certificates

NYSAFC joined with Physio Control to develop a recognition program for emergency services providers who save a life in New York state. NYSAFC Save Certificates recognize cardiac arrest reversals and the outstanding contributions by emergency medical services personnel in communities across the Empire State. Through this program, NYSAFC will issue certificates of commendation, commonly referred to as “Save” Certificates, to New York fire and EMS departments and their individual members who use a defibrillator to reverse a cardiac arrest resulting in survival to discharge from a hospital. Verification is completed by the department medical director or chief.

PDF Request for "Save" Certificates Form