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The Vestal Fire Department: Always Ready to Serve

Though just 50 square miles in size, the Town of Vestal, New York, boasts a mighty profile. It is home to Binghamton University, which draws visitors to the area through its entertainment and sporting events. The university itself adds thousands of students to the town and employs more than 3,000 faculty and staff. In addition to protecting this celebrated educational institution, the Vestal Fire Department covers two major adult care facilities as well as light commercial, retail, and residential areas.

Fire Chief John Paffie has been a dedicated member of the Vestal Fire Department since 1984. He became assistant chief in 2010 and was promoted to chief in 2020. Paffie says, jokingly, he didn’t have a choice on whether to join: “It runs in our family; my father was department chief as was my brother,” he says.

Paffie says he has a lot of fond memories since joining the engine company, but what stands out for him is the community service. “I have enjoyed watching and directing our department change to meet the needs of the community,” he says. “We are 100% volunteer and provide professional levels of response capabilities and services.”

Assistant Fire Chief Dave Bowen joined the Vestal company in 1990, becoming an assistant chief in 2021. Bowen admits that being a firefighter is something he’s always wanted to do. “It was a calling, really,” he says. “I enjoy serving others in times of need.”

The department operates out of four stations. The fleet includes four engines, one foam truck, two aerial platform towers, two rescue trucks, two boats, two midi-pumpers, two tankers, two brush trucks, and two utility trucks.

“Like any volunteer fire service organization, we push to recruit, train, and maintain the highest levels of readiness possible,” Bowen says.

What Bowen appreciates most about his job is the teamwork. “My team provides a wide array of highly specialized services, from rural fire attack to water supply to water rescue,” he says. “I am so proud of the dedication of my group.”

When it came time to upgrade their apparatus, the Vestal department turned to Metalfab. “Our apparatus committee was very impressed with the can-do attitude of the Metalfab team,” Bowen says. “The order process was thorough, detailed, and well-defined. The unit arrived on time and has served the community well. Our Metalfab purchases have proven to be rugged, reliable, and exceeded our expectations.”