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TOWNSEND — Seventy-three members of the Fire Department, their families and friends saw awards for 20,15 and five years of service handed out by Fire Chief Don Klein and Deputy Chief David Roy at the department’s annual Christmas party held recently at Townsend Ridge Country Club.

A highlight of the evening, after dinner catered by Bistro on the Green, was the announcement of the Firefighter of the Year and EMS Provider of the Year.

Per diem paramedic James Pelletier, a full-time Worcester paramedic who works two days per week in Townsend received the EMS award because, Klein said, because of his extra efforts helping the department that go above and beyond his job.

“He doesn’t live in town but he helped us a great deal with designing, building and maintaining our Web site, programming radios which saves us a great deal of money, and he is responsible for the graphics design of our new truck,” Klein said.

Recently retired firefighter Jim Meisner, with 47 years on the job, received the firefighter honor because, Klein said, for his continuing help with so many projects.

Another special Public Service Award was given to St. John’s Church for its “untiring support” of the department. That support this year was working with the Archdiocese of Boston to delay the razing of its building next to the School Street rectory so that the Fire Department could conduct training there. Once training was complete, the building was demolished.

A 20-year service award was given firefighter Duane Creighton and a 15-year recognition went to EMT Steven Gay.

Five-year service awards were given to paramedics Thomas Dardas, Nicole Carter, Kevin Roberts, Josh McCrillis, Joseph Reger, and firefighters Keith Feddersen and Greg Galeota.

Klein said this week that two events highlighted the past year’s departmental activities, other than the arrival of the new ladder truck.

One is the acquisition of a government Excess Property Program troop transport multifuel turbo diesel truck that is being converted into a Fire Department brush truck. A 600-gallon water tank and associated pumps, piping and radio are being installed to be ready in spring. The truck was acquired through the state Forestry Service.

“If we get five years out of it we’ve done well. Most of these vehicles are 20 to 30 years old when we get them, and parts are not easy to come by,” Klein said.

Unfortunately the attempt to acquire a $4.9 million stimulus package grant to rebuild the current Fire headquarters/medic quarters building into a unified departmental quarters, and tearing down the old brick fire station beside and the garage behind Memorial Hall was unsuccessful. Klein said he had scaled back the project to meet maximum grant guidelines.

Only one such grant was awarded in Massachusetts however.

“We really need to start the next phase, architectural design to fit this site. Preliminary work is done. After that, it’s finding the money to do the build,” the chief said.

The current headquarters houses his business and two others. It was not built for fire use and with three heating zones, it is not energy-efficient. The town purchased it a number of years ago.

“It was a fairly good year, save budget cuts. The biggest problem is maintaining buildings,” Klein said.