“It’s surreal. I’m still pinching myself.”
That’s how Warren Baker reacted to being named the Shelter Island Fire Department’s Firefighter of the Year Saturday night. A few days later he was still walking on air after he was honored at the organization’s Annual Installation Dinner at the Pridwin Hotel.
The selection made by the department’s three chiefs — Will Anderson, Greg Sulahian and Anthony Reiter — was an easy choice, according to Chief Anderson.
Since Mr. Baker, who will be 65 this summer, joined three years ago, he has provided skills missing from the department, the chief said.
“Whatever you ask him to do, he’s there,” Chief Anderson said.
For Mr. Baker, that has included helping bring in money needed to keep the community safe. Thanks to his efforts, he was able to get Kidde Technology in North Carolina to provide free CO-smoke detector units that have been distributed to residents in need of the life-saving devices.
The department qualified for 100 units under the Kidde program, according to Angela Killough, a company outreach specialist who worked with Mr. Baker to arrange the shipments.
Mr. Baker said last winter that his mission in joining the department at the urging of Chief Anderson was to give back to the community he and his wife Sally call home.
At the same time Mr. Baker became a firefighter, he also joined the fire police and recently he was asked to become department treasurer.
Last year, he spearheaded the department’s Country Fair.
He credits two department members with bringing him onboard and showing him the ropes. Chief Anderson first approached him about joining, telling Mr. Baker he would be an asset to the department.
Once he joined, it was Arthur Bloom “who took me by the hand” and taught me about the department, Mr. Baker said.
As for the work he has taken on in his short tenure with the department, he said, “To me, it’s a pleasure. I never expected anything.”
Mr. Baker started his career as tour manager and lighting specialist for Canadian singer Anne Murray and later started his own company selling promotional products, first to the entertainment industry, before expanding to offer the products to other corporations.
Most important in his life is his family. Sally first introduced him to Shelter Island about 30 years ago.
It’s because of her involvement, Mr. Baker said, as co-chair of Theatreworks USA — a nonprofit introducing children to live theater — that has the couple splitting their time between New York City and the Island.