Buffalo Fire Bestows Honors at Annual Ball

BUFFALO – Members of the Buffalo Fire Department gathered at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo Friday night for the Department’s 120th annual ball.

The Departments’ Memorial Award for Bravery Gold Medal was award to Lt. Charles “Chip” McCarthy and Firefighter Jonathan Croom. Both died after falling through a collapsed floor into a basement August 24, 2009. Both were honored for the couage and selfless spirit they displayed while responding to the aid of each other.

Other award recipients include:

Engine 32 Firefighter Timothy Gorman received the Memorial Award for Bravery Silver Medal for rescuing an invalid woman June 27 from a burning house at 34 Hamburg St.

The Memorial Award for Bravery Bronze Medal went to Ladder 14 Firefighter Quincy Drake, who rescued an unconscious 3-year-old girl last Dec. 6 from the second floor of a burning home at 96 Crossman Ave.

Rescue 1 Lt. Gerald Nostrant, who located another person trapped in a rear bedroom at that scene, received the Edward H. Butler Award for Bravery Bronze Medal, named after the former publisher of The Buffalo Evening News. Nostrant and Engine 36 Capt. Daniel O’Leary carried the victim to a waiting ambulance.

O’Leary was recognized with the Chief Ron Looby Memorial Performance Award. In addition, Buffalo Fire Commissioner’s Unit Citations were issued to Lt. Ollie Williams and Firefighters Willie Erving and Jakina Grimes of Engine 23; Engine 22 Firefighter David Schmitt; and the third platoon crews of Engine 31 and Ladder 14.

The new year had just begun when Rescue 1 Firefighter William Sanford rescued a man Jan. 1 from a house fire at 47 Woeppel St. His actions earned him the Edward H. Butler Award for Bravery Gold Medal.

Division Chief John Mogavero won the Butler Award for Bravery Silver Medal, in recognition of his solo effort March 21 to remove a fire victim from 100 N. Pearl St. He suffered burns and other injuries while performing the rescue.

The North Pearl Street fire also resulted in the VFW Award for Valor for Engine 2 Firefighter David Schieber, who, with a hose in hand, protected the victim needing rescue while providing an exit for other residents of the building.

The Local 282 Award for Bravery went to Engine 22 Firefighter David Schmitt, who crawled into a burning house March 3 at 122 Gatchell St. He and Firefighter Brian Monkelban found the victim and pulled him to safety.

Three firefighters were honored for their actions at a house fire last Oct. 21 at 614 E. Delavan Ave. that claimed the lives of two brothers and injured their father, who was rescued.

Ladder 7 Firefighter Michael Menge received the Independent Insurance Agents Award, and the Chief Bowers Award for Bravery went to Engine 37 Capt. Timothy Esford, who spotted an unconscious person in a second-floor bedroom and helped rescue the victim. Ladder 4 Firefighter Paul Urbaniak received the William Marcy Award for Excellence, for helping rescue a victim from the front porch.

Three members of Engine 33 were recognized with a Commissioner’s Unit Citation for their efforts at that scene. Acting Lt. Andre Lott and Firefighters Darren Rice and Jermaine Zeigler helped rescue a person, as well as a dog that was tied up and trapped.

Engine 35 Firefighter Dennis Mann received the Don Auer Humanitarian Award for Community Service for his six years as a volunteer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Ladder 14 Firefighter Dwayne Cathcart received the A. B. Wright Award for Bravery. He climbed up a ladder through through thick smoke July 28, 2009, at 1370 E. Delavan Ave. and rescued a woman as she tumbled through a window.

Engine 31 Firefighter John Keany, who held tight to a ladder on an unsteady base during that rescue, received the Beneficiary Award for Bravery.

Engine 34 Firefighter Gerald Walls received the Beneficiary First Aid Award for resuscitating an unresponsive infant Sept. 13, 2009, at 196 Crescent Ave.

The Commissioner’s Award for Meritorious Service went to Engine 32 Lt. Steve Wrzesinski, who was off duty last Oct. 28 when he administered first aid to a woman who had been hit by a car while crossing a street in Hamburg.

Engine 32 Firefighter Mark Kurtz received the Erie County SPCA Award; he entered the chilly waters of the Buffalo River last Dec. 12 to rescue a dog wedged in a hole.

Engine 37 Firefighter Gary Schultz received the Dr. Carl Day Award for Meritorious Service for his leadership as commander of the department’s Honor Guard for the past 13 years.

Carlos Rodriguez, an employee of Timon Towers apartments at 1015 Delaware Ave., received the Commissioner’s Award for Bravery for tracing a smoky odor to an apartment fire June 16 and waking the sleeping occupants, then guiding them to safety.

Dr. Dietrich Jehle received the Commissioner’s Award for Meritorious Service. After witnessing a chain-reaction accident Sept. 3, 2009, on the Thruway, he helped remove several people from their vehicles — including two little boys trapped in a burning car.

Acting Lt. Kenneth Stoller and Firefighters Mario Wallace, Lakisha Willis and James Shea of Engine 28 received a Commissioner’s Unit Citation stemming from their rescue of an unconscious man last Dec. 23 from a smoke-filled hallway in Monsignor Geary Apartments, 1250 Bailey Ave.

Also receiving a Unit Citation were acting Lt. Douglas O’Shei and Firefighters Kenneth Sikora, James Wrest and Michael Jaskula of Engine 3; and Capt. Thomas Reddington and Firefighters Patrick Garvey, William Sanford, Thomas Jackson and Scott Jeziorski of Rescue 1. During a structure fire last Nov. 29 at an eight-story building at 100 Beck St., they climbed the stairs to the seventh floor — encountering heavy smoke and water from a sprinkler system along the way — to rescue an elderly woman. They also helped a panicked man on the first floor.

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