Fire Service Community Achievement Award

2021 Winner

Joseph Lenhardt

Whitesboro Fire Department


Deputy Chief Joseph Lenhardt has a lifetime of volunteer fire service experience in both the New Hartford Fire Department and Whitesboro Fire Department.

Lenhardt served in the New Hartford Fire Department for 14 years, working himself up through the ranks into an Assistant Fire Chief position. While in New Hartford, he prided himself on helping others whether it was a new member learning the ropes of a volunteer or a veteran firefighter wanting to become proficient in a firefighting skill. Lenhardt was embedded into the community and the service that most volunteers often give back to residents.

Lenhardt took time away from the volunteer fire service and moved to the Whitesboro Fire Department’s district. After spending time with some of the Whitesboro officers and firefighters, Lenhardt decided it was time to get back into the volunteer service. Immediately upon his membership into the department, he made a positive impact in many facets of the volunteer fire service. But, his true niche was training and educating firefighters and helping those in need. After being elected as a line officer for Whitesboro, Lenhardt became an active member of our line officers and Board of Directors. He assisted in the recruitment of new members and had that knack for making them feel wanted.

At that time, the Mentor Program for our youth and new members was failing us. It needed a “shot in the arm” to make sure that new members were not left behind and were being trained to the high expectations of the Whitesboro Fire Department. Knowing his love for mentoring, Lenhardt became the Mentor Program leader. The program was an instant success right from the beginning. Whitesboro firefighters are currently attending New York State training classes and receiving high praise for their incoming firefighting techniques, which is a tribute to Lenhardt’s untiring dedication to this program.

He leads by example. In 2020, Lenhardt was third on the call response list with 275 incidents responded out of 506. All of this while he was also working a full-time job.

As a member of our Board of Directors, Lenhardt, on his own time, worked tirelessly around the fire station renovating rooms, painting hallways and using his building crafts to make our fire station what it is today. Even during the pandemic, he has stepped up to help when help was needed in assisting with raising funds for our day to-day operations. He has chaired numerous successful barbecues, taking it upon himself to make sure that these events are communicated to the public. He ordered and picked up all of the food for these events and made sure that each event was efficiently staffed. Lenhardt encouraged his mentor students to take an active role in department fundraising events, always making themselves available to help and support their department and thus building pride within them and their love of the volunteer fire service.

Lenhardt shows love for not only the fire department, but veterans. He is an active member of the Sons of the American Legion Whitestown Post 1113. It is there where he also takes his construction techniques to help build a barbecue pit for the Legion, as well as doing countless interior renovations projects just for the love of helping those in need. Lenhardt has chaired numerous chicken barbecues for the Whitestown Legion and was instrumental in the design and construction of their memorial.

Lenhardt epitomizes the word “volunteer” and what that word means to a community that has been stricken by five major floods over the past seven years. He understands what a community means to him. He believes in the mission of our fire department and the ideals of any veteran that served this country. In the words of our late President John F. Kennedy, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” Joseph Lenhardt truly lives by the words he so often shares.

Adapted from a nomination by George F. Massarotti, Whitesboro Fire Department Chief

Past Award Recipients

1994 Joseph B. Kuhn (deceased) Penfield Fire Company, Inc.
1995 Gus Wehrlin (deceased) Farmington Volunteer Fire Association, Inc
1996 Richard F. Laitenberger (deceased) Union Hill Fire Department, Webster
1997 William J. Reilly (deceased) West Babylon Fire Department
1998 William A. Wutz (deceased) Hutchinson Hose Company, Williamsville
1999 Robert V. Lyon (deceased) Setauket Fire Department, East Setauket
2000 No Award Given
2001 Bernard O. Monson (deceased) Albertson Hook & Ladder, Engine & Hose Co.
2002 James Mahoney (deceased) Northport Fire Department
2003 No Award Given
2004 John S. DaVanzo (deceased) Mineola Fire Department
2005 Joseph E. Sills, Jr. A. H. Wicks Engine & Truck Company, Kingston
2006 James Crowley Woodstock Fire Company #4
2007 Warren J. Rathke (deceased) Wrights Corners Fire Company
2008 Thomas P. Sullivan Mombasha Fire Company
2009 Philip F. DeLorenzo Piermont Volunteer Fire Department
2010 Ernest Matthews Hillcrest Volunteer Fire Company
2011 Brian J. Greck Medford Fire Department
2012 Stanley Figiel Big Tree Volunteer Fire Company
2014 Martin Horanburg Miller Hose Company, Inc.
2015 Donald E. Snyder Wantagh Fire Department
2016 John McKenna Northport Volunteer Fire Department
2017 Thomas J. Cuff, Jr. Levittown Fire Department
2019 Primo Biscaro Erie Hose Co., Warsaw Fire Department
2020 Michael A. Baker Archville Fire Co.