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‘Chappie’ wins first lifetime firefighter award

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    Lifetime firefighter achievement award (left to right) nominee James Briscoe, lifetime achievement winner David Chapman, nominee James Potts Sr.
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    Then-President of the Columbia County Volunteer Firefighters Association, Michael Cesternino, (holding microphone) standing next to the current president, Laura Foster (to his right), speaking and welcoming all honorees.
August 3, 2017 06:46 am

STOCKPORT — The Columbia County Volunteer Firefighters Association presented its inaugural lifetime firefighter achievement award to David E. Chapman of Chatham.

The 92nd Annual Columbia County Firefighters Association Convention was held in Stockport this year.

Two categories were awarded this year. For its fifth straight year, the Columbia County Firefighter of the Year Award was presented, and the lifetime firefighter achievement award made its debut. Honorable mentions were given in each category.

Several firefighters were also recognized for their heroic acts and dedicated community service.

Chapman, 73, known as “Chappie,” began his fire service on April 1, 1963 at the age of 19.

He started out serving the Chatham Sanford W. Smith Hook and Ladder Company and has since served about 10 different fire associations. He continues his service to this day.

“This is very humbling,” said Chapman. “Anytime you receive accolades from peers, it’s a real honor — because they’ve been in your shoes.”

Chapman’s father was also a volunteer firefighter, who got young David into it at an early age.

“[Firefighting] is interesting, educational and I’m doing something for the community — I’m helping people,” he said. “Some people hunt, some people fish — I put out fires.”

Chapman attends many firefighting conferences. Outside of his firefighting role, Chapman is also a member of the Canaan Conservation Club and has been a trustee on the village board for 11 years.

“I’m very proud of him — the whole family is proud of him,” said Liz Chapman, David’s wife. “Everyone knows him and knows how dedicated he is. He has a reputation that he’s willing to help any fire company.”

Both David and Liz are active members of the fire association in Columbia County and are both graduates of Chatham High School.

“He’s involved with the fire service for over 50 years,” Chatham Assistant Fire Chief Eric Barnes said. “He continues to be an active member.”

“His knowledge is unparalleled. There’s very little he hasn’t experienced or at least knows something about. He’s like Wikipedia,” Barnes joked.

Chapman continues to go to drills and training, making an excellent mentor for all up-and-coming firefighters, Barnes said.

“David continues to be involved in more than just his company,” Columbia County Volunteer Firefighters Association President Laura Foster said. “He’s there for his community — and for every other firefighter in Columbia County.”

Nominations for the awards went out to every fire company in the county last fall. The association received many submissions, Foster said.

“It’s hard to choose one,” she said. “David was in more organizations — serving his fellow brother and sister firefighters.”

Foster also pointed out Chapman’s wealth of knowledge.

“I could call David and say, ‘How do I do this?’ — his knowledge that he can give to other firefighters really makes him stand out.”

Nominees for the lifetime firefighter achievement award and honorable mention award winners were James Potts Sr. and James Briscoe.

The Firefighter of the Year award went to Daniel VanAllen of the Stuyvesant Fire Company.

Other honorable mentions went to Chief Mark Beaumont of the Philmont Fire Department, and Jason Detzel and Connor O’Neil of the Hudson Fire Department.

The convention next year will be held in Germantown.

To reach reporter Anthony Fiducia, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2309 or email