Westport Column

Congratulations to Jim Westover, Jr. and Bruce Hoskins on their recognition recently for 50 years of service as volunteer firefighters for Westport Hose Company Number One. Both were named to the department on the same day, May 1, 1963, and both have also served the ambulance squad over the years as well.

Also honored at the Firemen’s Banquet on May 18 were Adam Cross for 10 years of service, Irwin Borden and David Golembeck for 15 years each, and Judy Napper (our first woman firefighter) and Phil Kneller for 20 years each. Irwin, Judy, and Phil also serve on the squad.

The celebration took place at the Westport Hotel, and the fire department would like to thank the owners and staff of that fine institution for their outstanding hospitality and support.

It’s hard to imagine how different things were back in the day, when these two gentlemen were named to the fire department. For one thing, there were a lot more members, and the department generally had a long waiting list of young go-getters eager to serve. Now our towns are shrinking as young people follow the jobs to the cities and small volunteer departments like ours are struggling to survive. The certification process is longer and more intensive as well, which discourages new membership. All that goes double for the ambulance squad.

Many people are not even aware that if they call 911 for a fire or a medical emergency in Westport, as in many small towns in the region, they will get a 100 percent volunteer response. These are your friends and neighbors, people just like you who are ready to drop everything when the pager goes off and scoot off to the firehouse. People like Jim Westover, Sr. and Bruce Hoskins, who have lived here most all their lives and have answered that call more times than they can remember.

If you think that you might be interested in volunteering, drop me an email and I’ll be happy to let you know what’s involved. Whether you’re young and eager or older and retired, there’s much valuable service that you will be able to offer. And there’s much that you’ll get out of it, too. For one thing, you get to meet people like Jim and Bruce. And that counts for more than you could possibly know.

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