By ANN BELCHER
BROCTON - Brocton Fire Chief Brian Woleben, as well as all other responders who helped with extinguishing the fire that destroyed a village landmark were praised recently by the Brocton Village Board of Trustees .
Accepting that praise, Woleben returned the thanks by adding, "Thank you to everybody who helped out the night of the fire."
Trustee Dale Van Vlack, who described the job of a volunteer fireperson as "running into a burning building when others are running away," praised the responders and added that he did hear some questions from community residents as to whether or not response time was affected by the recent program change of the evening fire whistle which elicits a response for an emergency, which changed the blast from three minutes down to one.
"There was approximately half of our company there on scene, which is actually very good, given those are all of the normally active people in our department," Woleben added.
Streets Supervisor Tom Allen, also a Brocton fireman, agreed by saying, "We had plenty of manpower that night, especially with all of the mutual aid responders."
Trustee Gary Planty, fresh from emergency preparedness training offered by Chautauqua County, offered his perspective as a member of the Tri Church Parish family.
"You know, we just got done learning about preparedness. And as a church member, I can't thank the responders enough for their efforts. I'm so thankful that no one was hurt, and thankful that we have an all volunteer fire department here. All of the dedicated people in our town and village, the fire police, the surrounding departments, what they do really speaks to what we learned about. Preparedness is an evolution; you have to prepare for the emergency and then tweak it and ask 'how can we do it better?' That's exactly what happens here with our fire departments, and at the county level, if you're prepared, it can mean the difference in someone's life," Planty said.
Brocton's Mayor Dave Hazelton, who responds to emergencies regularly in Brocton, also praised the village utility crews for their quick response the night of the fire.
"We had so much water to extinguish the fire that some people might not have known; we had a flood at the four corners. It's good to know that something like that is taken care of in one phone call," Hazelton added.
As volunteer departments, the Brocton and Portland fire companies routinely accept interested volunteers into their ranks each year. Chief Woleben concluded that, "The whistle being reduced to one minute is still working great, and as far as I know, the fire is still under investigation."