Kevin Bachesta, who has been a member of the OFallon Fire Department (OPD) for 15 years, was named its top fire fighter in a ceremony during the OFallon Sunrise Rotary Clubs January meeting.
Bachesta said the citation for the Fire Fighter of the Year Award says it was given in recognition of the work he put in helping organize the departments annual golf tournament last June (this years event is Friday, June 1), its annual open house in October and for the numerous visits he made with other fire fighters to local schools to spread the fire prevention message.
Bachesta then said hearing he had been named fire fighter of the year was a shock. But this is not the first time he has received honor. He also was fire fighter of the year in 2006.
He explained eligibility for the honor depends upon the volunteers extracurricular activities with the department, plus their participation when emergency calls come in.
That is what got me where I am at, he said, noting whenever his pager goes off, he is ready to answer the call.
And I will continue doing that as long as I can, he said.
Bachesta said he grew up mostly in OFallon but graduated from Collinsville High School. Now that he lives in OFallon again he devotes most of his time to the OPD.
Explaining why he volunteered with the department, he said, I wanted to do something for the community and this was the closest thing I could find that I really got interested in.
He then said, while growing up, he often dreamt of riding around in a fire truck. Now that he has the opportunity, the reality is as exciting as he envisioned as a youngster.
The 37-year-old Bachesta said he has attained his Fire Fighter 2 certification and he has successfully completed a rope tech class, which dealt with handling ropes and tying knots, and included some rappelling techniques.
I really enjoy what I do with the fire department, Bachesta said.
And the most exciting part of the work is being able to help people when they call for assistance and then being able to take care of the problem they have when they call, he said.
Bachesta noted the OPDs 52 volunteer firefighters handle nearly 900 calls each year and they respond to more than just fires.
We help out the Emergency Medical Services crews, assisting them if they need help with a patient, and we do other things for the community, he noted.
As an example of those other things, Bachesta said the department responded to an emergency at Delores Moye Elementary School on a very cold Tuesday night in early January, where a sprinkler head froze and broke, spewing water into eight classrooms.
OFallon District 90 Superintendent Todd Koehl, Ed.D., credited the departments quick response to the alarm with saving his district a large repair bill.
Bachesta, one of the fire fighters who responded to the water line break, said, We squeegeed a lot of water out of classrooms that day. But that is what we are here to do.
If we can help find a way for businesses or schools, such as Moye, to save on repairs, we will do it.
Meet Kevin Bachesta:
Do you have words you live by?
Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
Whom do you most admire?
My parents Mike Bachesta and Cindy Lacey. Both live in OFallon.
I mostly read articles out of the fire fighting magazines we have at the department.
If you could spend time with a famous person past or present whom would it be and why?
George Washington. I have always found him interesting.
What do you do for fun and relaxation?
I hang out with friends and relax. And, in the summer, I like to go fishing at Lake Carlyle.
Whats the usual state of your desktop?
What did you want to do career-wise when you were growing up?
When I was a young, I wanted to be a baseball player. I played a lot of ball when I was growing up.
What do you think is your most outstanding characteristic?
I am friendly.
What irritates you most?
Negativity and people who treat others badly.
What type of music do you listen to?
I listen to a lot of 1980s Rock Motley Crue, AC/DC.
What do you like the most about fire fighting?
Being able to help people and doing whatever needs to be done to get the situation taken care of.
What do you like the least about the job?
Car crashes with deaths.
If you were independently wealthy, what would you be doing?
I would be going fishing a lot but I would still do the fire fighting.
When they make the movie of your life, who will play you?
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would you have with you?