After 46 years, 'Pez' still dispensing service ALLEGANY ��” His children remember growing up in a home that had fire calls and alarms coming in during the middle of the night, followed by their f…

After 46 years, 'Pez' still dispensing service




ALLEGANY ��” His children remember growing up in a home that had fire calls and alarms coming in during the middle of the night, followed by their father running out the door to help with countless emergencies.

For the family of Francis “Pez” Pezzimenti, the calls and fire alarms were, and are, a way of life for a man who has devoted his life to the Allegany Engine Company. Last week, the 78-year-old was elected fire chief of the volunteer fire company for his 46th consecutive year.

Born and raised in Olean, Chief Pezzimenti attended schools in Olean and Allegany. As a young man, he joined the Army’s 82nd Airborne and served during the Korean War. After returning home to the area, he began working with the village of Allegany Police Department. He would work for the police department for 44 years, serving many years as the chief. He also was the village’s superintendent of public works for a number of years.

In 1953 he was urged by his friends to join the fire department because there weren’t enough volunteers. At the time, the fire hall was located on Fifth Street in much smaller quarters. He and other firefighters rode to emergencies in the 1948 Mack Fire Truck that had no top. This was a consideration when temperatures dipped below zero. The truck, now used in the funerals of deceased firefighters, is displayed in a glass showroom at the front of the new fire station.

Chief Pezzimenti said the department moved to its present location on North First Street in 1958 and in 1963 he was elected to his first term as chief of the department. Chief Pezzimenti likely didn’t know at the time that he would be elected to hold the one-year seat, year after year, for the next four and a half decades.

During a walk around the department’s new $1.7 million fire station, Chief Pezzimenti talked about his years with the fire company. When asked if he ever planned on giving up the volunteer work, he said he didn’t have an answer.

“I don’t know, to tell you the truth, because this is my life,” Chief Pezzimenti said. He said he is involved with just about every aspect of the fire department including working at dinners, benefits and raffles.

“When my wife was here, this was her life, too,” he said of his late wife, Ann, who had worked with the fire department’s auxiliary and died in 1987.

Chief Pezzimenti said during their years of working in the fire department, he and his wife also raised seven daughters.

One of his daughters, Steph Kolkowski of Allegany, said the fire department has been her father’s life “as long as I have lived.”

“We grew up with the fire department,” Ms. Kolkowski said. She said her mother would dispatch fire calls from their home, as emergency calls came into their home on a special fire phone. Their home also had a plectron, which was a large radio that blared out special tones and announcements to alert fire departments to emergencies. The plectron was on 24 hours a day, seven days a week and could be a real annoyance to live with, Ms. Kolkowski said.

“There definitely were tough times growing up with all of that,” she admitted. “But we learned how to tune it out.”

She said her father still is dedicated to the fire department and often runs out during the day on calls when his pager goes off.

She said her father still is dedicated to the fire department and often runs out during the day on calls when his pager goes off.

“My daughter (Daniele Gleason) and I have lunch with him five times a week and he gets interrupted just about every day,” she said. “But that’s what keeps him young ... his entire life has been put into the fire department, front and center behind his family.”

Ms. Kolkowski said her dad is especially proud of the fact that his grandson, Chad Aurino, followed in his footsteps as a firefighter and now serves as the department’s vice president.

Fourth assistant fire chief, Tom Henderson, said Chief Pezzimenti has been a good mentor to him and the other young firefighters.

“He’s treated us all fair and has been kind,” Mr. Henderson said.

Tony Papasergi, fifth assistant chief, said he also admires Chief Pezzimenti because he pitches right in with everything and still drives fire trucks to incidents. Once on the scene, the chief serves as the “go to” man getting equipment and other needed items for the firefighters.

“I let these guys go now (and fight the fires), because my glory days are over,” the chief said, bringing a laugh from the other men.

Mr. Papasergi, who lives across the street from the fire station, said Chief Pezzimenti sometimes beats him to the fire station when fire calls come in.

“He’s well respected in here and throughout the whole community,” Mr. Papasergi said.

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Comment by LEO AFD389NY on April 14, 2009 at 6:50pm
You have that right Roy. It would be losted & so would he if he didnt have the department.
Comment by Roy Walker on March 27, 2009 at 1:00am
Sounds to me like if it wasn't for Pez the department would be lost . Dedication and abilities like this must be treasured and though I don't know this man it would be an honour to shake his hand.
Comment by LEO AFD389NY on March 25, 2009 at 5:46pm
Pezz is a well dezerving Fire Chief. I have none Pezz for a number of years, Way back when i was a young child when my father would take us to the fire hall. When you do as much for the fire service as Pezz has done you come to admire a legend. This man has a lot of respect from his fellow firefighters to any other Fire Company's to the genreal public. there isn't a place that you can go that there is no one that knows Pezz. You say his name and people will listen.
Pezz takes a lot pride in our department. If it wasn't for the Fire Department he would be lost, Pezz lives, eats, and sleeps for the Allegany Fire Department.

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