LANCASTER, NY (WKBW/Release) - Each year, the Firemen's Association of the State of New York (FASNY) presents the Fire Safety Educator of the Year Award to a volunteer firefighter in recognition of his or her exceptional efforts in presenting fire prevention and safety education to residents in their community.
This year FASNY honored Lancaster Volunteer Firefighter William C. "Billy" Schroeder at the Lancaster Village Fire Department, on October 7th.
This year the award ceremony will coincide with National Fire Prevention Week, October 7th -13th.
William C. "Billy" Schroeder is a lifelong resident of the Village of Lancaster who has been employed by the Lancaster Central School District for 33 years and currently serves on the Village Board.
Everyone who has come to know Schroeder recognizes him as a true champion in every sense of the word. Since he spearheaded the fire education and life safety program in Lancaster, Schroeder has dedicated an enormous amount of time to the program in an effort to reach out and truly make a significant impact on all the residents and age groups of the community.
Schroeder's love for the Lancaster Fire Department began as a young boy; he finally joined on May 23, 1978 after reaching the required age to join. Following the line of command as he went through the ranks, Schroeder became Fire Chief of the Lancaster Fire Department for the term of 1994-1996.
It was during this time that his interest intensified regarding fire safety education and he met his future mentor, Glenn Sickles of the Scottsville Fire Department. With the support and assistance of Sickles, Schroeder began his quest to establish and bring a fire safety education program to the Western New York area.
He participated in and attended many fire safety education conferences at the New York State Fire Academy.
His initial start as a fire safety educator came about with the assistance of New York State Assembly Members Vincent Graber and the late Sandra Lee Wirth and New York State Senator Dale Volker. Schroeder established the program with the purchase of three fire safety robots, an array of magic tricks, puppets and a puppet stage.
He also obtained a 35' fire safety house trailer and a 15' cube van. All of his items have been used at various fire safety events, fire department open houses, senior citizens' health fairs, business in-service training classes and school demonstrations across Western New York.
Schroeder's fire safety education program has gotten him a lot of recognition: It won the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs' Fire Prevention Award in 2001; he was the proud recipient of the Citizenship Award from Lancaster Mayor Bill Cansdale in 2001; he was requisitioned to be a presenter at the 2003 Pub Ed Conference; and he was a presenter at the Oneida County Volunteer Firemen's Association Fire Safety Expo in Utica New York for several years.
The Village of Lancaster established an annual event that has been held for over 15 years with Schroeder's assistance, the Lancaster Fire Prevention and Life Safety Family Day. Created to model the Oneida Fire Expo, over 30 exhibitors are invited to this event to address various fire safety topics.
Demonstrations as well as methods of fire prevention are offered to educate attendees on procedures to protect themselves in a fire related incident, and they are invited to meet their own local emergency service providers.
Participation in hands-on demonstrations is urged to allow attendees to actually experience what members of the fire service go through when disaster strikes.
Schroeder phrases his passion for fire safety in these words: "This isn't the most glamorous job in the fire service, but one that isn't done enough. I have truly enjoyed all the people that I have met, the friends that I have made and the fun I had doing it. I've had a lot of help from the Lancaster Fire Department, our area politicians, businesses and my co-chair of our Fire Prevention and Life Safety Family Day, Dawn Gaczewski of the ADWORKS Sign Company in Lancaster."
The FASNY Fire Prevention and Life Safety Committee praise Schroeder for his great strides and achievements in the field of fire prevention education. He truly exhibits the true traits that this award was intended to honor.