Moriah Fire Chief Ralph Jaquish and Mineville/Witherbee Chief Paul Tromblee were honored for their service at the May 7 meeting of the Essex County Board of Supervisors.
MORIAH — After 58 years of being ready at a moments notice, laying out clothes before bed for a quick exit to an emergency, Moriah Volunteer Fire Department chief will be retiring.
Ralph Jaquish, now 81, has been a member of the Moriah department for 58 years and served as chief for 53. Recently recognized as the longest continually serving fire chief in the state of New York, Jaquish said he felt his career has gone out with a bang.
“When we arrived at my last big fire in Moriah Center, the fire was blazing 30-feet through the roof and within seconds, it felt like, (the fire) was through the east wall of the building,” Jaquish said.
Jaquish said his last year as chief has been a very “interesting” time. The year was capped with the Moriah Center fire and an arson fire at the Mountain Lake Services building that put emergency responders at risk when the arsonist drove over fire hoses.
Jaquish said firefighting has changed tremendously in the nearly six decades he has volunteered.
“No body can imagine, unless you were there,” Jaquish said.
He recalled his first fire call, with no phones in the truck and said responders sometimes found themselves miles from the nearest landline with the home’s phone severed in the flames.
“You got to the call one way or another,” he said, sometimes having to drive miles to call for reinforcements at the scene.
Of all the mechanical and communication improvements Jaquish has seen throughout his career the arsenal of equipment his department carries is the greatest improvement.
“We’ve got a truck for just about anything,” Jaquish said. “Just unthinkable back then.”
When he first started working the department had just one pumper and a tanker truck. The Moriah Fire Department currently has a pumper, a large tank truck, a brush truck, a mini pumper, an aerial device, and an equipment van with air.
Through all of the fire and emergencies he has seen, Jaquish said the experience has been all good and he’s gotten to work with a good group of people and neighboring squads.
“I think I’m relieved, it will be good to not have to go so fast,” Jaquish said. “But I will miss working with that great group of people.”
Brian Glebus will take Jaquish’s position as the new fire chief of the department. Glebus was sworn-in during a department meeting June 14.
Glebus has served in the department for the past two years and has been a volunteer firefighter for the past 20 years serving in Crown Point.
Glebus said “you never know where I’ll show up.”
Glebus said as fire chief he wants to just continue doing the hard work he has always done.
“One thing I’ve always loved and felt like I had to do was helping out in the community,” Glebus said.
He said he’s incredibly proud of the level of volunteerism in Moriah during a time when most volunteer departments are hurting for help.
“I want all of us to continue to do the same thing everyday, we’re a team and it doesn’t matter title, we’re going to keep training, training and training to be ready in case anything happens,” Glebus said.
The new chief praised the former chief for his years of service and said he hopes to continue to work hard as Jaquish did.
“He is an incredible man for what he’s done, its an incredible feet to do it for that long,” Glebus said. “Its amazing what he’s done.”