Richard Kestner Named Fire Fighter of the Year

Kestner FFotYrBy DON O’BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

A man who has advanced through the ranks of the Tri-Township Fire Department for last 20 years was honored Friday as the Quincy Exchange Club’s Firefighter of the Year.

Richard Kestner, who started with the department as a volunteer in 1994, is now a lieutenant for the department, which serves Riverside, Ellington and Melrose townships. He oversees one of the three shifts, investigates fires and has been a hazardous materials officer since 2007. He also uses his skills as a handyman to help the department in various ways.

“He is a very vital cog in our operation out there,” Tri-Township Fire Chief Rick Zaerr said. “We are a very small department, so we can’t afford to have too many clunkers. Everyone has to pull their weight, and he definitely pulls more than his share. He is a really good asset. I don’t know what we’d do without him sometimes.”

Kestner, 48, was on vacation and did not attend Friday’s presentation. The department had a ceremony for him before he left to let him know that he was the winner of the award, which is given by the Exchange Club every October to either a member of the Tri-Township or Quincy fire departments.

Zaerr jokingly said Kestner probably wouldn’t have said much to the crowd.

“He spoke for as long as we’ve ever seen the other day,” Zaerr said with a laugh as he accepted the award for Kestner during the meeting. “He spoke for a minute, maybe a minute and a half, which is a long speech for him.”

Zaerr said Kestner’s award is one that the entire department can share in.

“We look at this as recognition for the whole fire service,” Zaerr said.

Kestner was one of two people to be honored. Brother Ed Arambasich, chaplain for the Quincy Fire Department, was awarded as the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year. Arambasich has been the Quincy Fire Department’s chaplain since 2003