The Dunn & McCarthy building, the Deauville Hotel, the Auburn Country Club — if there was a fire large enough to make the news in the last 65 years, former Owasco Fire Department Chief Tom Burns was probably there.
Burns was recently honored at the department’s annual banquet for his 65 years of service, a career he said he was privileged not only to have, but to share with an outstanding department.
“I was very blessed to have good people, people that weren’t afraid to work,” Burns said.
Since joining the department in 1953, Burns said, he’s seen almost every aspect of firefighting change.
Equipment, especially, has changed, Burns said while looking at a 1962 photograph of himself and other firefighters flanking the department’s founding members.
While Burns and his contemporaries sit atop a tanker truck in the picture, the founders are holding the hand-drawn extinguisher carriage they’d used.
Things have changed even more since then, said Burns’ nephew and current department member Steve DeLuca. In the past, firefighters would have taken pride in being skilled pump or hose operators, often working by feel to get, say, water pressure just right.