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Wayne Post
  • Don Snow named Volunteer of the Year by Newark Fire Department

  • Using a handkerchief from his pocket, Donald Snow wiped the tears from his cheeks as he walked to the podium where Newark Fire Chief Michael Colacino was waiting to congratulate him as the 2012 Volunteer of the Year.

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  • Using a handkerchief from his pocket, Donald Snow wiped the tears from his cheeks as he walked to the podium where Newark Fire Chief Michael Colacino was waiting to congratulate him as the 2012 Volunteer of the Year.
    “They really surprised me,” Snow said. “It never even dawned on me Mike would get me like this.”
    Snow was honored during the Newark Volunteer Fire Department’s annual banquet held Saturday night at Club 86 in Geneva. The award honors a volunteer who gone above and beyond with his or her time for the department. Colacino described Snow as a friend, helper, worker and supporter who has always been ready to lend a hand.
    “Through all the changes,” Colacino said, “he’s always returned to stand with his brothers and sisters in the department.”
    Snow joined the Arcadia Hose Co. No. 2 on Oct. 17, 1967 at the age of 32, some 45 years ago when he decided he wanted to do some volunteer work in the community. Back then, the only equipment firefighters were given was a bunker coat and a helmet, Snow said. Any other equipment was usually purchased by each volunteer firefighter. Snow recalls when firefighters didn’t have the breathing apparatus they use today. Back then, Snow said they enter a burning structure and simply hold their breaths for as long as they could. Like today, they use the buddy system, Snow said, but if your buddy wasn’t ready to leave, you stayed too.
    “You’d get down as low as you could and hold your breath as long as possible,” Snow said. “We called ourselves smoke eaters.”
    Over the years, Snow said he has collected many memorable moments, like the time he and a fellow firefighter were working a fertilizer fire from atop the roof of the building. They learned much later that just a short distance under their feet was an abundance of dynamite that if ignited by the fire would have blown them and everything nearby away, Snow said.
    A lot has changed since then, most notably the equipment firefighters have at their disposal — something for which Snow credits the village of Newark’s support.
    But the one thing that hasn’t changed in these years is the camaraderie between the department’s members.
    “It’s been a close knit family for as long as I’ve been in it,” Snow said. “Everyone works together, even neighboring departments. There’s a job to do and everyone does it.”
    Snow doesn’t go out on fire calls anymore. Instead he actively helps with department functions and fundraisers and acts as treasurer — giving $499 of the $500 paycheck back to the fire department. And every summer he dedicates his time to maintaining the Newark Fire Department’s memorial park, a property for which he was instrumental in helping the department obtain.
    Page 2 of 2 - The honor granted him Saturday left Snow speechless and deeply touched.
    “I was completely surprised and speechless at the time,” he wrote the next morning in a letter to Colacino. “I will say that the Newark Volunteer Fire Fighters are the best group of volunteers anywhere. Over the last 45 years, I have been blessed to have worked with the best group of many friends ever. I accept this award with great honor. I am truly blessed.”

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