At 22 — he’ll be 23 in July — Maximilian Pelletier is Shelter Island’s Firefighter of the Year.
“My heart sank. My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe it,” Mr. Pelletier said, describing his reaction when he heard his name called at Saturday night’s Shelter Island Fire Department Annual Dinner at the Pridwin.
The young firefighter has been at every training session and every standby for the past year, Chief Greg Sulahian said. “Max is our go-to guy,” the chief added. “Anytime we need someone in a pinch, he’s always there for us all.”
Mr. Pelletier’s father was a fire chief and was his inspiration to join the department three years ago. But he also has friends in the department who encouraged him.
“It takes a lot of dedication,” he said, noting the hours devoted to training. Because the department experiences few serious calls, members have to train more intensely so they’re ready when a significant emergency arises, he said.
“I’m very diverse,” Mr. Pelletier said, describing his duties, whether driving a fire truck or fighting an interior building blaze.
The young volunteer was among those who responded in January to a house fire on Penny’s Path where three occupants escaped without injuries. Police Detective Sgt. Jack Thilberg, described the blaze that started from a gasoline-powered generator as “fully involved” when first responders arrived on the scene, and it took close to two hours to bring the fire under control.
“I just like knowing when the pager goes off, I could be saving someone sometimes,” Mr. Pelletier said.
Maurice “Tut” Tuttle was honored by his department colleagues Saturday night for his 65 years as an active member of the Fire Department. Mr. Tuttle received state, county and town proclamations from Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr., former county legislator and now Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine and Supervisor Jim Dougherty.
His fellow firefighters marked the anniversary in February, but celebrated again on Saturday with the proclamations for his long service to the Island.
“That’ll be me some day,” Mr. Pelletier said he told his girlfriend, Jackie Arthur. “To have that much dedication means a lot.”
When Mr. Pelletier comes home from a call, Ms. Arthur said she loves seeing his enthusiasm and witnessing his dedication to the community.
Mr. Pelletier works on boats at Brewers Yacht Yard in Greenport, a job he loves because he enjoys being around the water. Aaway from work, he’s an avid hunter and fisherman. He describes himself as true harelegger “born in the upside down house behind the courthouse” and raised on the Island.
He’s a 2011 graduate of Shelter Island High School and 2013 graduate of New England Tech in Rhode Island.
Chief Sulahian, who took over the department when former Chief William Anderson III stepped down, assumed his own term as chief Saturday night. Anthony Reiter continues as first assistant chief and Stanley Beckwith fills out the roster as second assistant chief.
While the three took their oaths of office originally back in November at a Fire Commissioners meeting, this time, they got to do it in style sporting their dress uniforms.
Watching the men take their oaths, Mr. Pelletier said he has a goal in mind. “I want to get into the chiefs’ line,” he said.