October 8, 2014 Allentown Fire Department Fire Marshal Michael L. Taylor is being honored as the 2014 City of Allentown Fire Fighter of the Year. Taylor was recognized at the Allentown Fire Department’s annual memorial and awards service held this morning in City Council Chambers as part of Fire Prevention Month.
The department recognizes firefighters for their actions over the past 12 months. In addition to Firefighter of the Year, the department presents the Alfred W. Fischl Award, Bravery and Years of Service awards and Unit Citations.
Fire Marshal Taylor, the most senior member of the Allentown Fire Department, is being honored for his conscientious and dedicated work ethic. Prior to his promotion to Fire Marshal in August 2014, Taylor drove Engine 4, one of the busiest in the city, for over 26 years. He is credited with taking meticulous care of the vehicle and is recognized as an expert in the operation of the truck and the equipment it carried.
According to Interim Fire Chief Bob Kudlak, “It is unlikely that the Allentown Fire Department will see an individual with the same length of service and dedication on the front line for years to come. Mike is well deserving of the honor. He is a reliable source of information for younger firefighters and he truly led by example. He is sorely missed on the front line, but we are gaining someone who will be an excellent fire marshal.”
Mayor Ed Pawlowski told the firefighters in attendance, “You demonstrate the highest skill and professional achievement in your field on a daily basis. Your quick response and decisive actions save countless lives, prevent serious injury and preserve property. The citizens of this community deeply appreciate your service.”
The Alfred W. Fischl Fire Service Award was presented to Battalion Chief James D. Wehr for his consistent and dedicated work ethic throughout his 20 year career. This award is presented to a fire department individual who has served at least 20 years and has exemplified himself with consistent and dedicated work habits. Battalion Chief Wehr commands the department’s underwater recovery team and was named the 2009 Firefighter of the Year.
Wehr was also honored for his 20 years of service with the department along with Firefighter Joseph E. Zimmerman Jr.
Firefighters Dustin Grow and Keith Pierce received a Meritorious Award for Bravery. Firefighters Grow and Pierce were honored for their actions for searching, locating and removing a victim from a house fire on Adams Island in March 2014. Upon arrival at the scene Grow and Pierce encountered a fully involved single structure. The rear half had already destroyed by fire. The only remaining area without significant fire involvement was the second floor front and they entered through a second story window off a ladder. When the call was made to evacuate the structure due to imminent safety issues, firefighters Grow and Pierce had just located the victim and were able to get her out of the building seconds before it was consumed in flames.
A Unit Citation was also awarded for the same fire. These first arriving crews encountered an aggressive fire that had an extensive head start and they worked feverishly to establish position and develop a plan of attack to enable rescue efforts with a report of a person trapped inside. These crews had very little time and performed admirably considering the terrain and logistics of the area. Recipients are: Battalion Chief Scott Henrick, Firefighter Phillip Lathrop, Captain Jeffrey Hess, Firefighter Michael Evans, Firefighter Michael Bryant, Firefighter Steven Costa, Firefighter Chad Ege, Firefighter Peter McAllister, Firefighter Keith Pierce, Lieutenant Sean O’Neill, Firefighter Dustin Grow, Firefighter Todd Heffner, Firefighter Matthew Eharth, Firefighter Kevin Cannon, Lieutenant Trevor Beers, Firefighter Jeffrey Tomczak, Firefighter Joseph Zimmerman and Fire Marshal Michael Barron.
A Civilian Meritorious Award was presented to Ramon Liceaga. Last month, Mr. Liceaga helped a 15-year-old boy escape from the third floor of a burning residence in the 900 block of Washington Street. Mr. Liceaga threw a small step ladder onto a second floor porch roof and assisted the victim down from a third floor window as the second floor burned. The teen was treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation. Mr. Liceaga actions saved the boy’s life.
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