Longtime Cutchogue volunteer named Firefighter of the Year

Locals may know him as Santa Claus around the holidays. Others have seen him manning the grills at the Cutchogue Fire Department’s annual chicken barbecue. And to many, he’s the man at the wheel of the department’s heavy rescue truck or ambulance on the way to an emergency scene.

Now, longtime volunteer Everett Glover will also be known as Firefighter of the Year by both his own department and the North Fork Volunteer Fireman’s Association.

Mr. Glover, 70, who goes by “Ev,” has served the Cutchogue department for more than 50 years, having joined right after high school in 1964. During that time, he’s risen through the ranks, serving as chief in 1983 and 1984, and gaining a reputation as an active member. In 2016, he drove on 140 out of nearly 400 calls the fire department received.

“His heart belongs to the fire department,” his wife, Dorothy, said, adding that he never seeks recognition. “He does it because he loves it.”

In fact, at the fireman’s association ceremony May 6, the lifelong Cutchogue resident didn’t immediately realize that he was the honoree being described.

“I think I know that guy,” he thought as the announcer mentioned someone who joined the fire service the same year he did. Ms. Glover had an idea they were talking about her husband, but the kicker was when they heard: “Everybody knows him as Santa Claus.”

Mr. Glover, with his white hair, beard and glasses, plays the role of St. Nick throughout the community during the Christmas season.

Volunteering is a Glover family tradition. Mr. Glover’s grandfather, father and brother all joined in the fire department and served as an inspiration him for him to follow suit.

Even on calls at two or three in the morning, he’s ready to drive the ambulance, Chief Lawrence Behr said. It’s “unbelievable” how active he is at his age, the chief said.

“It’s a good feeling to know you did something good,” Mr. Glover said, adding that sometimes he’ll be stopped in the grocery store by someone who remembers him from a scene. But he didn’t join to be a hero, he said.

Over the years, he’s responded to all sorts of scenes, from mothers giving birth, to deadly fires and fatal car accidents. He can remember the details and some are “haunting,” he said. The tough ones stand out in his mind, “but not in a good way,” he said.

“You’re never sure what you’re going into,” said Mr. Glover, who’s also held jobs over the years with the town highway department, a cement company and as a farmer. Sometimes he and his wife will be about to sit down for dinner or head out to Riverhead for shopping when an alarm will sound. But Ms. Glover just tells him to go ahead.

“He’s a very kind and loving man and I understand that this is what he does, that he loves this and I love and appreciate that about him,” Ms. Glover said, adding that he has also a strong commitment to his family.

He also loves his lifelong hometown, his wife said. As an active volunteer, Mr. Glover has also seen the Cutchogue community celebrate. During the annual fire department barbecue, he enjoys the work of cooking 3,700 half-chickens splayed out on rows of smoky grills set up in the parking lot.

Cutchogue has changed over the years, as most places have, he said, partly in terms of people and attitudes.

“It’s different, but it’s still Cutchogue,” he said. “It’s your community and you want to protect it.”

Nowadays, it’s tough to make a living, he said. Some people need two jobs to survive, which takes away some time from volunteering, but families need to be supported, he said.

Chief Behr said Mr. Glover is a mentor to all the department’s new members, who look up to him for his years of experience in the fire service.

“He’s part of this place, that’s for sure,” the chief said.

After talking with The Suffolk Times, Mr. Glover was headed to the Suffolk County Fire Academy in Yaphank with other members for training on responding to car fires. Training makes a good firefighter, he said. For the members who attend multiple training sessions each year and respond regularly to calls, it’s “in the heart,” he said.

“I can’t stop,” he said. “It’s in your blood. I got smoke in the blood.”

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Photo: Everett Glover, 70, has served Cutchogue Fire Department for more than five decades, having joined right after high school, in 1964. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)