Fire Service Community Achievement Award

2020 Winner

Michael A. Baker

Archville Fire Co.



Mike Baker joined the Archville Fire Co. on June 12, 1962, and has served in many capacities in the department over the years. When he joined, he was a young and energetic firefighter and he continues in that mode today as an internal firefighter. He sets an example for the members with his devotion to physical fitness as demonstrated by his competitive running and fitness schedule.

Baker is currently Deputy Chief and has brought an innovative physical fitness program to the firehouse. This program has introduced yoga classes to the members with classes taken at the fire headquarters. This physical fitness program is unique in the fire service in New York State.

He’s served twice as Chief and contributed to Archville’s transition to an independent fire department when the department separated from the Briarcliff Manor Fire Department. As training officer, Baker established an innovative self-training center that allowed members to have the video and written material at fire headquarters to help keep their skills sharp. He was instrumental in the establishment of Archville’s Service Awards Program that has been a valuable asset for the department.

In the community, Baker is on the Board of the Loucks Track Meet, which is a major high school track meet held at White Plains High School that draws schools from the Eastern Seaboard, Bermuda and Canada. This Board organizes and runs this meet for over 3,000 athletes.

Since retiring, Baker has devoted much of his time to writing and currently has published a book that teaches children and adults about Lyme disease prevention.

This has involved extensive speaking appearances at Rotary meetings and other public forums. He was elected to the Board of the Hudson Valley Writers Center in Sleepy Hollow. This organization promotes literary education and has many literary outreach programs throughout the community.

Baker is on the Community Board of Arc Stages in Pleasantville, a community theatre that promotes local heater with a major emphasis on youth theatre and education. Arc Stages honored his commitment at their 2012 gala.

As an avid gardener, Baker is now volunteering for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut. In 2019, he established an ongoing award in the memory of its founder Bill Duesing. This award, called the Bill Duesing Organic Living on the Earth Award is given each year to an outstanding farmer who demonstrates a commitment to preserving the earth.

Baker has been a member of the White Plains Rotary Club for the last 25 years and chaired the Ethics Committee that awards an Ethics Award each year to a Westchester business individual. He was Chairman of the White Plains Rotary Foundation and guided the Foundation through the financial crisis in 2008-09. In 2013, Baker volunteered for the Hurricane Sandy First Responder Harlem Magic Basketball Fundraiser that brought both police and firefighters to play in this basketball fundraiser.

In 2013, the Visiting Nurse Services of Westchester honored Baker for his community service and the many years he served on their Board. In 2012, he co-chaired the Crosby Nash concert fundraiser for the Open Door Family Medical Center, which provides medical services to the community regardless of ability to pay in multiple locations in Westchester and Putnam Counties.

It is a great honor for the whole department to have Baker recognized for his unselfish commitment to the fire service and the entire Westchester County community.

Adapted from a nomination by Tom Gustin, Briarcliff Manor Fire Department President, Second Assistant Chief and Ex-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