William Schroeder named 'Fire Safety Educator of the Year'
Schroeder, who serves as a village trustee and has been employed by the Lancaster Central School District for 33 years, has spearheaded the fire education and life safety program in Lancaster for more than 15 years.
He joined the department on May 23, 1978 and following the line of command he eventually served as fire chief for the term of 1994 to 1996.
“These are the guys that impressed me and I wanted to be one of them. Why not?” said Schroeder. “It is the greatest organization in the world.”
It was during his time as chief Schroeder’s interest in fire safety education grew and he met his future mentor Glenn Sickles of the Scottsville Fire Department, who was the first recipient of the FASNY Fire Safety Education of the Year in 2005.
Attending several education conferences, Schroeder initially started as fire safety educator with the support of New York State Assemblyman Vincent Graber, the late Sandra Lee Wirth, and former New York State Sen. Dale Volker.
The program began with three fire safety robots, an array of magic tricks, puppets, and a puppet stage. He also obtained a 35 foot fire safety house trailer and a 15 foot cube van, which have been used in a variety of fire safety events.
Since that time, the Village of Lancaster, with the assistance of Schroeder, has established an annual event called the Lancaster Fire prevention and Life Safety Family Day. More than 30 exhibitors are invited to attend to address various fire safety topics.
Schroeder was presented the award by Second Vice President of FASNY Ken Pienkowski.
“I prefer not to accept this award for myself but for all of you,” said Schroeder to his fellow firefighters. “All of you people had made this possible. You spend hundreds and hundreds of hours training and preparing yourselves for something that might happen and I believe using that idle time to do what we need to do to prevent fires is the way to go.”
Village of Lancaster Fire Department President Stephen Stribing, who submitted the letter to FASNY recommending Schroeder to receive educator of the year, said he has done an outstanding job with his presentation of fire prevention and life safety education to the residents of Lancaster and communities across Western New York and the State of New York.
“Bill and his few volunteers do not get paid for this service, but continue with their passion to further educate the residents of all ages and the program could be considered second to none,” Stribing remarked.
To receive the FASNY award is a tremendous honor and there is a lot of competition, added Stribing.
Making his last comments, Schroeder said, he was thinking about why a lot of people call firefighters heroes.
“This is one of most important jobs that we have,” said Schroder. “I think we do it pretty well. I wondered how many fires didn’t happen because of what we’re doing and how many firefighters are alive today. It is a nice family here. I can’t tell you how proud of every single one of you that has come to help us and put us where we are today. I truly appreciate this award. It is a great honor.”
In addition, several other awards were presented during the breakfast including:
• Rookie of the Year, Ryan Wager
• Firefighter of the Year, Brendan Kennedy
• Fireman of the Year, Norm Piotrowski
• Chief's Award, Doug Lahnen
• President's Award, Bill Huff
• Explorer of the Year, Connor Asposto
Also former Mayor William G. Cansdale Jr. was in attendance at the breakfast, who was there to express his appreciation for the department’s support through his term as mayor.
“I have a lot of great memories of chief installation banquets, inspections, and communion breakfasts,” said Cansdale. “I sincerely appreciate the time I was able to spend with the volunteer firefighters.”
Lancaster Fire Chief Scott Kuhlmey presented Cansdale with a proclamation commending him for all his achievements in the department. Cansdale was instrumental in replacing all three fire department pumper trucks, refurbishing the ladder truck, replacing several fire chief vehicles, and rescue 7, as well as numerous fire station upgrades and attending several fire department functions.