N.H. Firefighter Honored For 50 Years of Service

Aug. 31, 2013
Acworth's fire chief retired as the community he served honored him.

Aug. 31--ACWORTH -- A former plumber and electrician. A man who could fix up even the oldest of fire trucks and make them functional for everyday use. A great leader and friend. A man whose mission was to do something worthwhile and to make a difference in the small town of Acworth.

Those are just a few of the ways that volunteers of Acworth Volunteer Fire and Rescue Co. Inc. and wife Fay D. Knicely described their fire chief of 44 years, Elbert Knicely, and his dedication to the squad.

Today, the fire and rescue crew will honor Knicely for his 50 years of service as a volunteer firefighter for the town and usher him into retirement.

They will also recognize active member Kenneth D. Grant Jr., who has worked for Acworth Fire and Rescue for the same timespan as Knicely and remembers the day Knicely took over for him as chief. Grant -- who has a long family history of volunteer fire service -- had held the position as fire chief of Acworth for the two to three years prior.

"I've known (Knicely) for 50 years now and there are probably a good many things about him I don't know. He's a pretty private person and keeps to himself," Grant said. "But I'll never forget that day we got our first brand-new fire truck. That was quite an operation to convince the town we needed something new."

In the good old days, Grant said he, Knicely and the department's other volunteers refurbished a couple of old surplus trucks they had purchased through the government.

"Elbert has always enjoyed making things go. He'd have this idea and it would percolate. But then he'd persist and make things happen," Grant said.

Fay Knicely, who spoke on behalf of her husband, said he was young-spirited and full of energy when he accepted the position of chief.

"He was well-suited for the job. He understood what needed to be done and he was good with dealing with people," she said. "I think he deserves everything he's been given. All firemen should be appreciated."

The town's current fire chief, Steven G. Morris, said he had learned about one other New Hampshire chief who was active for 41 years. But Morris said he has yet to find a chief that's surpassed Knicely's 44 years of service.

"Elbert taught me a lot about patience," Morris said. "I've known him for five years now and he brought me up telling me about the company."

But during Morris' years of services, he said Knicely's health has suffered so he hasn't responded to emergency calls like he once did.

Fay Knicely said her husband realized this spring that it was time for him to step down from his position as chief, although, he still remains active with regard to administrative matters, she said.

Acworth fire and rescue's open house will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be an antique car and bike show, with a $5 entry fee, and a pay-by-donation barbecue.

Entertainment will include water games for kids, a fire educational trailer, Smokey the Bear and music.

The awards ceremony will begin at 1 p.m.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @ADandreaKS.

Copyright 2013 - The Keene Sentinel, N.H.

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