Geneva VFD receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Authored by Jim Langham on Apr 12, 2013

What is usually awarded as an individual award was given to an entire unit at Thursday night’s Geneva annual Chamber of Commerce award ceremony.
The Geneva Volunteer Fire Department is this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner.
“This award is one given for years of dedication and involvement in the community,” commented Chamber of Commerce executive director Pam Krause.
“Typically this has been given to an individual. However, this year the chamber board has bestowed this honor on a long running organization in the community.
“The Geneva Volunteer Fire Department is always there to serve 24/7 and an avid fixture in this community,” continued Krause. “This department addresses many needs for this community.”
In accepting the award, Art Booth, representing the department, gave a history of the growth of the Volunteer Fire Department in the Geneva community.
Booth noted that that the local department was founded in 1904 with a couple of trucks and a lot of grit.
“Today we are housed in two buildings with seven pieces of apparatus that is used in the community,” said Booth. “We have two engines, utility van, 3,000 gallon tanker, grass truck, first response vehicle and a water rescue boat.
“Before the city acquired the second building, it was an obstacle course just to walk through the station,” continued Booth. “Today we have room to grow which is great for the fire department.”
Booth noted that in 1946 when the Indiana Volunteer Firemen’s Association was formed, local firemen, Waldo “Bud” Neal, was a key player in the process. Eventually, Neal had a son and grandson who also served on the department.
“Bud, who worked for Eastern Indiana Oil, would tell the story how he washed the windows and put gas in John Dillinger’s car when he came through Geneva,” said Booth.
“Another member was Ivan Nevil who became president of the Indiana Volunteer Firemen Association,” continued Booth. “Ivan went on to work for the State Fire Marshal’s Office. As time went on, he was appointed as the state fire marshal until there was a political change at the statehouse.”
Booth said that some firemen were grandfathered in to the system, depending on their time in the fire service.
“We have instructors in our department who train not only our members but other firemen from other fire departments,” Booth said. “Most of the training today that a fireman does is transferrable to a college degree. Today we have members who have an associates degree in public safety in the fire science concentration and we have other members working on their degrees.”
Booth commended the fire department for a long history of community involvement such as pancake breakfast, chili suppers with a Halloween Parade to follow, merit badge classes for the Boy Scouts, tractor pull and letting the Youth Council use the station for dances.
“These men have done fire prevention in the schools and or at the station whenever they have a chance,” said Booth. “They will, upon request, talk with kids who have problems with fire and they also will talk with clubs or groups on fire related matters.
“During all the years, the fire department and firemen have always been there day or night to reach out to the community to do what was necessary to keep it out of harm’s way. This is our home and we are proud of it,” said Booth.

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