Bristol Firemen’s Memorial honors service over self

By Ethan Hartley
Posted 6/12/24

Intermittent rain and wind may have dampened parade attendance, but the heart and soul of Bristol’s annual Firemen’s Memorial was on full display.

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Bristol Firemen’s Memorial honors service over self


Intermittent rain and wind may have dampened parade attendance, but the heart and soul of Bristol’s annual Firemen’s Memorial was on full display once the large crowd arrived at the Firemen’s Memorial Park on Thames Street Sunday afternoon.

With each company represented by uniformed members of firefighters, EMS personnel, and Ladies Auxiliary members — heralded into the park and lined up in organized rows by the spirited sounds of the Rhode Island Highlanders — it is truly a sight to behold and puts into perspective the sheer amount of manpower required to run a primarily volunteer fire and rescue department, which serves over 22,000 people.

“What always struck me about this organization is the number of volunteers who are willing to give up their time, who are willing to be held accountable to a high code of conduct, and to put their lives on the line without hesitation. It’s truly a life of service that does not punch a time clock. We are always on call, and ready to go,” said keynote speaker, Robert Holt, who has served with the Ever Ready company for 45 years. “These individuals do not stop or hesitate to wonder if they will make it out. Their goal is simply to protect and save lives. And yet the individuals that we honor here today, as well as most of us here, would probably that they are not heroes, just regular people who are doing the work that we believe in, just like our brothers and sisters before us; a tradition over 150 years strong.”

The ceremony includes a laying of wreaths to honor those who have passed away throughout the years for each company (Ever Ready, Division EMS, Hydraulion, Dreadnaught, and Defiance). Those who have passed between the last year’s memorial and this year are also specifically recognized.

Those individuals who recently passed away included: William Vargas and Gregory Gerjets of Ever Ready; John Moss of Division EMS; and Richard Marshall Sr. and Larry Krauss of Hydraulion.

Fire Chief Michael DeMello took a moment to recognize the new statue that was overlooking the event from the south side of the park, which was designed by Victoria Guerina, who was in attendance for the event.

Poissant wins community award
The Victoria “Vicki” Van Voast Award, given out each year to someone who “exemplifies the true meaning and spirit of volunteerism and community involvement” went to Courtney Poissant, owner of Common Pub and CP’s Catering.

“She is a chef, an entrepreneur, and never refuses the chance to step up for her community,” said Ladies Auxiliary Vice President Kelly Medeiros, who presented the award. Medeiros mentioned Poissant’s numerous community efforts, which include organizing toy drives, delivering food to seniors, raising money for the Wilson Furtado Memorial Scholarship, donating to the Bristol Police Department, and organizing food vendors singlehandedly for the Community Night Out. “With all that she already does, she never turns away an opportunity to help our community with a gift card or cooking for a local sports team.”

Poissant was visibly touched by the moment.

“This is such an honor. I’m quite speechless and any of you who know me know that is usually not the case, by any means,” she said. “I definitely have some big shoes to fill. The exemplary philanthropy that has been shown by previous recipients, words just can’t explain it. Thank you so much, this is such an honor.”

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