New York State
Association of Fire Chiefs

Providing Service to Those Who Serve


Fire Chiefs Honored with Presidential Achievement Awards

Robert Hulse and the late Thomas Hetherington were recognized during the NYSAFC 113th Annual Conference & FIRE 2019 Expo in Syracuse.

NYSAFC proudly honored Chief Robert Hulse and the late Chief Thomas Hetherington with the association's 2019 Presidential Achievement Awards on June 13 during the 113th Annual Conference & FIRE 2019 Expo in Syracuse.

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

Chief Robert Hulse has been a member of Bay Shore Fire Department in Suffolk County since 1964. He has played many active roles within the department and still responds to alarms on a daily basis. In 2004, Hulse was awarded by the department with a Medal of Valor for his involvement in saving numerous individuals from a residential fire in Bay Shore. For the past 48 years, Hulse has been making daily trips to two local hospitals to visit sick or injured firefighters, law enforcement officers, and military veterans. With his outstanding gestures of kindness and compassion and continued devotion to our emergency responders and veterans, Hulse helps to make each day better for those that are sick or injured.

Chief Thomas Hetherington, a 32-year veteran of the fire service, lost his life in a tragic snowmobile accident on December 7, 2018. This award was presented to Tom's wife, Karen. Hetherington joined the Churchville Fire Department in Monroe County at the age of 14 and rose through the ranks from junior firefighter to fire chief. He also previously served as an EMT with the Spencerport Volunteer Ambulance Service and Monroe Ambulance. Upon moving to Yates County in 2014, he joined the Middlesex Hose Company, where he quickly became a mentor and leader and attained the rank of assistant chief. Hetherington was employed as a fire investigator with the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office of Fire Prevention and Control, along with his K-9 partner, Taz. He is fondly remembered by his friends at NYSAFC for his work on the Fire & Life Safety Educators' Conference, which is co-hosted by the association and OFPC. Although only 46 at the time of his passing, Hetherington left a mark on many organizations in the fire and EMS community of New York state.