Monroe firefighters’ Awards Banquet recognizes outstanding service

Lt. George Roelofsen, third from left, received the Ryan S. Gardner Firefighter of the Year Award. Presenting the award is, from left, Vice President Matt Jamison, Monroe Deputy Fire Chief Joe McNellis, and Fire Chief Kevin Catalano.

MONROE, CT — One year after its 100th anniversary, the Monroe Volunteer Fire Department celebrated individual milestones for longevity, active service and the outstanding contributions of its firefighters during its Annual Awards Banquet and Anniversary Dinner at Vazzy’s Osteria on June 29.

Monroe Fire Lt. George Roelofsen was recognized as the Ryan S. Gardner Firefighter of the Year. Roelofsen reached five years of service this year, during which he obtained his Connecticut Fire Academy Firefighter I, II and Fire Service Instructor I certifications.

Roelofsen has been one of the fire company’s top call responders, covering over 110 calls this year, according to Monroe Fire Chief Kevin Catalano.

“He serves as head quartermaster and was recently promoted to the rank of lieutenant,” Catalano said. “He frequently attends or leads duty crews and training sessions and also obtained his ‘Q’ license endorsement and became qualified to operate our mini pumper this year. I’m pleased to present our 2024 Ryan S. Gardner Firefighter of the Year award to Lieutenant George Roelofsen.”

Firefighter Zion Ashe was recognized with the Forrest A. Ryan Chiefs’ Award for Outstanding Service.

Firefighter Zion Ashe was recognized with the Forrest A. Ryan Chiefs’ Award for Outstanding Service.

“This member has proven himself to be a reliable firefighter who consistently gets tasks done quickly and with high quality,” Catalano said, while presenting the award.

The chief said Ashe, who is also an EMT, is a top five call responder, and played an active role on the department’s new Health & Safety Committee, tackling various assignments to improve firefighter safety and reduce risk.

Ashe stepped into the assistant quartermaster role, often outfitting new members with gear and helping to manage the supply room, according to Catalano, who said Ashe is an active member of the duty crew program. A top drill attendee, Ashe obtained his Connecticut Fire Academy Firefighter II certification this year.

“For his dedication, willingness to help, and ability to quickly execute on key initiatives requested by the chiefs, our 2024 Forrest A. Ryan Chiefs’ Award for Outstanding Service goes to Firefighter Zion Ashe,” Catalano said.

Firefighter Ryan Greer received the Lloyd Stevens Member of the Year Award.

Firefighter Ryan Greer received the Lloyd Stevens Member of the Year Award.

“In addition to being our top call responder for the year, this member contributed significantly to improving the department’s operations and image throughout the year,” Catalano said. “This includes playing a significant role on our Building & Grounds Committee, including donating his own labor to improve the appearance of our property and handling a long list of projects particularly during the first half of the year.”

“He was very involved in representing the department at public events and an active participant in our duty crew program and at training sessions, including becoming qualified on our new mini pumper,” Catalano said. “This member also stepped up to co-lead our newly formed honor guard program. For his time and commitment and willingness to always lend a hand to help improve the department, the Lloyd Stevens Member of the Year Award goes to Firefighter Ryan Greer.”

Longevity, top responders

Monroe Fire Capt. Chris Krize, center, is congratulated on his 25 years of service by Chief Kevin Catalano, right, and Deputy Chief Joe McNellis.

Monroe Fire Capt. Chris Krize, who dedicated 25 years of service to the town and the fire company, earned his Life Membership status.

“Chris has had a very broad impact by improving and modernizing the department, including in his current roles handling department finances, as well as sourcing officer and technology/innovation leader, and he is a top fire call responder,” Catalano said. “Chris has an active hand in nearly all significant initiatives and activities of this department.”

Catalano said Krize enjoyed the support of his wife, Brittany, and mother, Rose, who attended the banquet.

Krize joined the MVFD as a junior firefighter at age 14, serving as captain of the junior corp. He is currently captain and financial officer and is the department’s former president, vice president and lieutenant. His Connecticut Fire Academy certifications include Fire Officer I, Fire Service Instructor II, and Incident Safety Officer.

Others recognized for service milestones include:

  • 50-plus years: Past Assistant Chief Tim Marsden (retired)
  • 35 years: Past Fire-Police Captain Ron Deaso Sr. (retired)
  • 30 years: Chief Kevin Catalano
  • 5 years: Lieutenant George Roelofsen and Firefighter Bryan Flores
The top 10 fire call responders were also recognized for their dedication and time commitment:
  1. Firefighter Ryan Greer
  2. Chief Kevin Catalano
  3. Chiefs’ Aide Bill Davin
  4. Firefighter Nik Picon
  5. Firefighter Zion Ashe
  6. Firefighter Max Damone
  7. Captain Chris Krize
  8. Deputy Chief Joe McNellis
  9. Firefighter Sam Damone
  10. (Tie) Firefighter Ben Brown and Lt. Jack Sheehan

“We also recognized our top five responders to overnight fire calls, jokingly recognizing each ‘Insomniac Award’ winner with a gift bag of caffeinated products to keep them going,” Catalano said. “All kidding aside, handling these calls during the middle of the night requires a significant level of dedication and commitment as the volunteers must head to their regular jobs or school the following day.”

The Top 5 Responders:

  1. Chief Kevin Catalano
  2. Firefighter Ryan Greer
  3. Captain Chris Krize
  4. Firefighter Nik Picon
  5. Firefighter Zion Ashe

Oath of the Executive Board

First Selectman Terry Rooney administered the department oath to the Executive Board serving for the upcoming year beginning July 1:

  • President: Bill Davin
  • Vice President: Matt Jamison
  • Financial Officer: Chris Krize
  • Secretary: Matt Gill
  • Member-at-Large: Bob Klein
  • Chief.: Kevin Catalano
  • Deputy Chief: Joe McNellis
In recognition of his support, the department presented Rooney with his own Monroe Fire Department quarter zip “job shirt” embroidered with his name, which Rooney was very appreciative of, Catalano said.
First Selectman Terry Rooney with the Top 10 call responders.

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