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Buffalo firefighters to be honored tonight at annual awards ball

A Buffalo firefighter who braved smoke and flames, without the protection of a hand-held hose, to search for a man trapped in an apartment fire will receive the Buffalo Fire Department's Memorial Award for Bravery Gold Medal during the department's 121st annual ball tonight in the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

Ladder 6 Firefighter Gino Gatti entered 144 Northland Ave. through a second-floor window and found the unconscious 47-year-old man on June 22. He and a lieutenant moved the victim to an interior stairway before additional crews helped remove the victim, who died of his injuries.

*Ladder 15 Firefighter Richard Hyde will receive the department's Memorial Award for Bravery Silver Medal for his role in locating and rescuing a 52-year-old man, who was found unconscious in a second-floor bedroom at 214 Ludington St. Firefighters had to negotiate a path through a large amount of collectibles stored in the home during the Sept. 6, 2010, blaze.

*A mansion at 143 Windsor Ave. was the setting Feb. 11 as Ladder 4 Firefighter Teofilo Maldonado located and, with the help of his colleagues, removed an elderly woman from a second-floor bedroom, earning him the Edward H. Butler Award for Bravery Gold Medal, named after the former publisher of The Buffalo News.

*Ladder 6 Lt. Vincent Muscarella will receive the Edward H. Butler Award for Bravery Silver Medal for his role in helping move the victim of the Northland Avenue fire.

*The Independent Insurance Agents Award will go to Ladder 15 Capt. John Leising, who helped move the victim of the Ludington Street fire.

*The Local 282 Award for Bravery will go to Ladder 14 Firefighter Dwayne Cathcart, who had to overcome downed utility lines and other obstacles at the scene of a fire at 576 Goodyear Ave. to single-handedly rescue a pregnant 43-year-old woman from a first-floor bedroom window on July 27, 2010.

*A Feb. 9 fire in a high-rise apartment building at 505 Elmwood Ave. led to honors for Ladder 4 Firefighters Michael Dougherty and Brian Martinez, who rescued a panicked resident -- an amputee -- from a smoke-filled hallway. Dougherty will receive the Chief Bowers Award for Bravery and Martinez the Chief Ron Looby Memorial Performance Award.

*The VFW Award for Valor will go to Ladder 13 Firefighter Michael Maly, who also is an Army medic. He was enjoying his hobby of skydiving on Aug. 1, 2010, when the plane in which he was riding with five other people crashed in the Niagara County Town of Wilson.

Though he was suffering from a head injury that later required more than 100 stitches to close, Maly and a neighbor near the accident scene tended to another victim; Maly refused assistance until all of the other passengers had been helped.

*Engine 36 Lt. Ronald Barrett, a former paramedic, will receive the Beneficiary Association First Aid Award for help given to a man who was thrown from his car in an April 29 accident on Route 198 at Elmwood Avenue.

*Tony Greco, the department's supply clerk, will receive the Dr. Carl Day Award for going above and beyond his job specifications to make sure firefighters have the best available personal protective equipment.

*Mark Reed, a retired Engine 31 firefighter whose firefighting career was cut short by injuries suffered in a 2007 house fire, will receive the Don Auer Humanitarian Award for Community Service. He returned to public service in other capacities, including lecturing and mentoring emergency service workers, and serving as a dispatcher for the Lancaster Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

*Joshua Hill, a civilian, will receive the Buffalo Fire Commissioner's Award for Bravery after rescuing a 93-year-old neighbor from a June 23 house fire at 205 Longnecker St., then retrieving a fire extinguisher from his own home and going back to put out flames in the neighbor's kitchen.

*The SPCA Award will go to Ladder 14 Lt. James Whelan and Firefighters Jeffrey Gray, Edward Hughes and Jerry Nappo, who rescued and revived two dogs during a smoky July 8 house fire at 470 Olympic Ave.

*Engine 37's Fourth Platoon will receive a Unit Citation for its work at an active crime scene Jan. 17 at 478 Normal Ave. With a sword-wielding assailant still on location, the crew tended to two stabbing victims: a 45-year-old woman who died and her 15-year-old daughter. Honorees are Lt. Matt Osinski and Firefighters Matt Whelan, Joseph Gambino and Thomas O'Donnell.

*A second Unit Citation will go to Ladder 13's 2nd Platoon, who worked together on the ladder rescues of three people during a house fire at 16 Knox Ave. on Sept. 10, 2010. Honorees are Capt. Paul Beale and Firefighters James Jackson, John Patterson and Jose Soto.

*Multiple crews will be honored in the third Unit Citation, stemming from their work at the scene of a Feb. 25 car accident at Main and East Ferry streets that killed one person and seriously injured an off-duty Buffalo police officer.

Honorees are: Fourth Battalion Chief William Renaldo; Engine 21 Lt. Thomas Bystryk and Firefighters Mark Flannigan, Scott Rodgers and Robert Reiman; Ladder 6 Capt. Joseph Fahey and Firefighters Jason Czora, Robert Urbino and Sean Fitzgerald; Rescue 1 Lt. Anthony Liberatore and Firefighters Kevin Scott, Walter Majtyka, Mark VanHorn and John Relosky; and Engine 37 Lt. Patrick Stanton and Firefighters Kevin Lynch, Jack Alagna and Luke Cybulaski.

email: citydesk@buffnews.com

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