May 12
2014 President’s report

This year marks my 10th anniversary at the Upper Mt. Fire Company, and my fourth consecutive term as it’s President. It’s been a wild ride to say the least. In addition to being a firefighter and EMT at one of the busiest fire companies in Niagara County over the last 10yrs, I’ve also been front line on the ‘business side’ of running a fire company which has left just as many memories (and some scars). But as Winston Churchill once said, ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going.’

This year we put a brand new 2015 Chevy Tahoe ALS fly car (26M1)  into service through a very generous $30,000 donation from a local businessman who wishes to remain anonymous. Although I can’t thank this person by name publicly, his unconditional love for his community is something that we should all be very thankful for. Upper Mt. Fire Company is forever grateful, and we promise to pay it forward with our Advanced Life Support for years to come.

Our budget spending came in under for another year. And while I would like to point to responsible spending practices as a reason, the truth is when you operate on a limited budget you make most decisions on ‘need to haves’ versus the ‘nice to haves’. We budget for some ‘nice to haves’, but they tend to take a back seat because the ‘nice to haves’ typically require more work to accomplish, and let’s face it, we’ve been too damn busy to take on side projects. As a result, we have been able to put aside surplus money for future use for the 3rd year in a row. So there is always a silver lining.

As far as the Niagara County communications tower that went up in 2014 on our property, let’s just say it has been a learning experience. I’d like to say more about it, but the first lesson I learned was to say ‘no comment because of pending litigation’. Sadly, even after the judge ruled from the bench that the lawsuit was invalid, there is still the right to an appeal by the plaintiffs. So we still wait. But I will say, after listening to the first transmissions on the radio system, I did get a little teary eyed realizing the grief was worth it. We have made it a point from the start: this system will save lives! It’s unfortunate that those who wanted to stop it will never fully understand why it was so important to their lives and those of everyone in Lewiston (& Niagara County) as a whole. Always remember, it’s not just for fire and EMS, it’s for police too!

I’d also like to thank our Board of Directors. When I took office as President I asked for Board meetings two or three times a month. That was not what they signed up for based on past boards, but I felt it was necessary to keep the ball moving and to get things done. So in addition to volunteering their time as first responders, they have gone the extra mile to sacrifice their time so that our fire company is managed effectively. We couldn’t do it without them, and I for one am grateful to have such a diverse collection of experience and perspectives to work with to manage and lead our fire company.

In closing, I’d like to give a shout out to all the first responders and agencies we work with. To quote Mother Theresa, ”The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it.” For that reason, I thank you one and all. Be safe. 

- G ® e g

Greg Sitek
Upper Mountain Fire Company 

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