Rescue 1 firefighter Czora earns top bravery award - The Buffalo News
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Rescue 1 firefighter Czora earns top bravery award

With a refrigerator blocking a doorway, a Rescue 1 firefighter climbed onto a garbage tote and through a side window of a burning house last July 12 to search for a 60-year-old man trapped inside.

Firefighter Jason Czora received the Buffalo Fire Department’s Memorial Award for Bravery Gold Medal during the department’s 123rd annual ball, held Friday night in the Hyatt Regency Buffalo. Czora found the victim in a bathtub at 35 Roseville St. and dragged him into the kitchen, where two firefighters helped carry him outside.

Other awards follow:

• Ladder 14 Firefighter David Smith, who helped find and remove a 23-year-old woman from a house fire at 174 Timon St. on Feb. 22, then went back in again to find her 3-year-old son, received the Edward H. Butler Award for Bravery Gold Medal, named after the former publisher of The Buffalo News.

• Rescue 1 Firefighter Kevin Scott, who helped Smith find the adult victim in the Timon Street fire, received the Buffalo Fire Department’s Memorial Award for Bravery Silver Medal.

• The Edward H. Butler Award for Bravery Silver Medal went to Engine 3 Firefighter James Wrest, who forced open a door at 171 Box Ave. on March 7 and helped carry to safety a 90-year-old resident who had collapsed on the second floor.

• Engine 33 Capt. Jeffrey Stauffiger received the Edward H. Butler Award for Bravery Bronze Medal for his role in the Box Avenue rescue.

• The Chief Bowers Award for Bravery went to Ladder 14 Firefighter Joseph Rankin, who was ending his shift the morning of Sept. 1, 2012, when he was dispatched to 634 Walden Ave., where he and another firefighter put a ladder to a second-floor window, then he climbed up to help a man escape the flames.

• Engine 3 Lt. Neil Keane, who for years toiled to ensure that Buffalo firefighters are honored for their actions and organized the annual ball, received the Dr. Carl Day Memorial Award, which was intended to honor individuals who made important contributions to the department in a non-fire-related way.

• The VFW Award for Valor went to Ladder 6 Firefighter James Dole, who helped raise a ladder on Dec. 27, 2012, to a second-story window at 86 Dodge St., where he climbed up and entered the smoke-filled structure to help carry down a trapped person.

• Engine 19 Firefighter Jeffrey Kane received the Independent Insurance Agents Award, after he came across a fire at 1088 Amherst St. while traveling with his family on Nov. 10, 2012. After tending to a woman on the ground outside, Kane searched the structure and ushered another occupant to safety.

• The Chief Ron Looby Memorial Performance Award went to Ladder 4 Firefighter Robert Carnavale, who also responded to the Amherst Street fire while off-duty.

• Rescue 1 Firefighter Thomas Darling received the Local 282 Award for Bravery for his assistance at the Roseville Street fire on July 12.

• The SPCA Award went to Engine 3’s first platoon: Lt. John Piegay and Firefighters Robert Ulrich, Christopher McCleary and Michael Kick. They responded to a call at 230 Herman St. last Oct. 29 and rescued a severely burned dog, which has recovered and was named Phoenix.

• Ladder 2 Firefighter Patrick Ernle received the Donald Auer Humanitarian Award for Community Service for his tireless efforts in support of cancer research. He participates in the annual Ride for Roswell, runs fundraisers, solicits donations for raffles, and encourages the participation of Local 282 members.

Buffalo Fire Commissioner’s Unit citations went to:

• The second platoons of Engine 21: Firefighters Gino Gatti, Mark Flanagan, Anna Krause and Joe Gerevics; Ladder 6: Capt. Joseph Fahey and Firefighters Walter Majtyka, Dave Smith and John Hayes; and Rescue 1: Lt. Dan Corcoran and Firefighters Kevin Scott, Jason Czora, Dawn Kunz and Dave Kazmierczak, for their work at the February fire on Timon Street.

• Ladder 13’s fourth platoon, Firefighters Kevin Burke, Henry Toney, Aaron Watkins and Clarence Perry, for the rescue of a woman and two babies through a second-floor window at 78 Reservation St. during a Jan. 24 fire.

• Engine 21’s Lt. Neil Keane and firefighters Milford Cumberlander, Christopher Herbst and Ramon Suarez Jr.; Ladder 6’s Lt. John Victor and Firefighters Paul Urbaniak, Scott Jeziorski and Dwayne Cathcart; and Rescue 1’s Capt. Daniel Renkas and Firefighters Scott Janowski, Kamali Davis, Patrick Curtin and Ronald Bryant, who rescued a demolition worker trapped in waist-deep mud at 196 Eaton St. on June 14; and:

• Engine 21’s fourth platoon, Lt. Thomas Krasinski and Firefighters Patrick Curtin, Robin Nichols and Milford Cumberlander, for their work Feb. 14 at 908 Lafayette Ave., where a man, woman and 5-month-old baby were rescued from a second-floor porch as a fire raged beneath them.

The Buffalo Professional Firefighters Local 282 EMS Award went to Lt. David Schieber, who helped perform CPR on Engine 32 Lt. Steven Wrzesinski, who was feeling ill after returning from a fire scene and suffered cardiac arrest while awaiting treatment at Mercy Hospital.

Commissioner’s EMS Awards went to:

• Lt. Thomas Hoffstetter and his wife, Carol, a registered nurse, who saved the life of a fellow mourner who suffered cardiac arrest during a Sept. 15, 2012, funeral in a Town of Tonawanda church.

• Engine 4’s second platoon, Lt. Tom Bunk and Firefighters Paul Britzzalaro, Bart Sumbrum and Pete Densing, who responded Jan. 14 when a referee suffered cardiac arrest during a girls basketball game at Mercy High School. Tom Barrett and John O’Neil, two off-duty firefighters in the stands, helped administer first-aid until the Engine 4 crew arrived.

• Engine 3’s Lt. Robert Charvat, who was the first to reach a woman in labor at 90 Armbruster St. on Sept. 24, 2012. The baby still was inside the amniotic sac when delivered, and Charvat used scissors to cut the sac and safely remove the baby, which he held in the ambulance all the way to the hospital.

• Ladder 6 Firefighter Randy Parker, who used his body to shield his fiancee when a drunken driver lost control of his vehicle along the Sweeney Street bike path in North Tonawanda, where the couple was walking their dogs on June 12, 2012. Parker, despite his own injuries, stabilized a compound fracture in his now-wife’s leg and kept her warm to prevent shock.

• Ladder 14 Firefighter Joseph Rankin and Engine 33 Firefighter Aimee Kinsley, who were off-duty, attending a fellow firefighter’s wedding on Aug. 11, 2012, in Lockport, when they saved the bride’s grandfather, who was choking on food.

• Engine 1 Firefighter William Cybulski, who was vacationing at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., on March 10, 2012, when a 13-year-old boy, who was not breathing, was pulled from a resort pool. Cybulski began performing CPR with the boy’s father and continued until an ambulance arrived.

Other honorees include:

• Rishawn T. Sonubi, who received the Commissioner’s Citizen Award. Sonoubi was heading to work May 3 when he came across a fire at 707 S. Division St.

After reporting the fire and warning neighbors, he entered the burning structure to pull out a victim whose hand he had seen on the ground in a doorway.

• Buffalo Police Officers Brian Britzzalaro, Robert Eloff and Adam O’Shei, who were on patrol early Feb. 9 when they noticed a fire in a commercial building at Elmwood and Hodge avenues. They went up to the second floor to lead several residents to safety.

• Division Chief Donald McFeeley, who received the Commissioner’s Meritorious Award in recognition of his almost 40 years of serving the department and community with honor and dedication.


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