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Firefighters to be honored at annual ball

Members of Buffalo Fire Department's Ladder 14 encountered extreme fire conditions on Jan. 15 when they responded to a house where people were trapped at 122 Freund Ave.

Firefighter Kevin Harrison was doing a primary search, without the protection of a hand line, when he found a man in a first-floor bathroom. With the help of his lieutenant, Harrison was able to move the man to safety, earning the department's Memorial Award for Bravery Gold Medal, which will be presented tonight during the 122nd annual ball in the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

*EMS Lt. Lawrence McDaniel will receive the Memorial Award for Bravery Silver Medal. He was off-duty at a festival in North Buffalo on July 16, 2011, when a fire was discovered nearby – at 63 Crestwood Ave. While others first responders looked for the best way to enter the home, McDaniel scaled a wrought-iron support to a balcony to rescue someone who was an invalid from the burning building.

The Edward H. Butler Award for Bravery Gold Medal, named for the former publisher of The Buffalo News, will go to Ladder 6 Firefighter Brian Renowden. He found someone trapped in a first-floor bedroom during a Dec. 26 house fire at 146 Kings-
ley Ave. After he helped carry the victim outside, he continued first aid despite the flames and intense heat.

*Ladder 14 Lt. Mark Mendola will receive the Edward H. Butler Award for Bravery Silver Medal, for helping in the rescue of the Freund fire victim.
• Rescue 1 Firefighter Walter Majtyka will receive the Chief Bowers Award for Bravery, for his role in the rescue made during the Kingsley Avenue fire.

*The Independent Insurance Agents Award will go to Rescue 1 Firefighter Michael Lotocki, who was outfitted in safety gear, then lowered down an embankment along Cazenovia Creek to rescue two women – and their cats – who were trapped beneath a bridge by rising water last Nov. 14.

*Ladder 6 Firefighter Robert Urbino, who also participated in the rescue on Kingsley Avenue, is the recipient of the Chief Ron Looby Memorial Performance Award.

*The VFW Award for Valor will go to EMS Lt. Alan Forcucci, who was setting up the EMS tent at the festival when he noticed the smoke on Crestwood Avenue and reported it to the alarm office. He also helped fellow firefighters and Buffalo police in locating and rescuing trapped residents.

*EMS Lt. John Piegay, who was assigned to the EMS trailer at the festival, responded to the Crestwood Avenue fire with his colleagues and entered the home to attempt a primary search before additional help arrived. He will receive the Local 282 Award for Bravery.

*When a platoon from Engine 34 responded last Oct. 9 to the report of a woman in labor at 30 Dunlop St., they found the woman on the floor and realized the baby's arrival was imminent. While Lt. Ollie Williams and Firefighter Hugh Arthur tended to the mother, Firefighters Ricky Williams and Gerald Walls worked with an ambulance crew to deliver a healthy baby girl, earning the Beneficiary Association First Aid Award.

*The recipient of the Don Auer Humanitarian Award for Community Service will be Engine 26 Firefighter Dan Milovich, a longtime Riverside resident dedicated to the area in which he lives and works. A member of Rediscover Riverside and his street's block club, he attends meetings of the Black Rock Riverside Planning Alliance and, with his wife, spends time annually cleaning and maintaining nearby bike paths.

*Not only human lives were saved at the Freund fire. Firefighters discovered a large kennel containing a dog and her litter of eight, all of which were carried to safety. Receiving the SPCA Award will be Firefighters Tarris Breggins of Ladder 14, Terrence Trillo of Rescue 1 and Ross Nwachukwu of Engine 36.

*The winner of the Commissioner's Citizen Award is Taylor Sittniewski, a lifeguard who rescued a struggling 17-year-old from Lovejoy Pool on July 1, 2011, and resuscitated him.

*When a July 13, 2011, industrial fire at 164 Chandler St. strained the resources of the Buffalo Fire Department, a call for mutual aid was answered by the Buffalo Niagara International Airport and Air Force Reserve fire departments. Receiving Unit Citations for their service are Joel Eberth, Jessica Storm, Roger Roll, Mark Wojnar, Mike Walsh, Bill Flynn, Bob Kaminski, Russ Jackman, Wally Pieczynski, Tony Turner, Mike Kluck and Will Major, from the Buffalo Niagara Airport crew; and Capts. Dale Hess and Steve Check, Lt. Kevin Mitchell, Firefighters Justin Joyce and William Tiedman, Chief Ed McDonald and Assistant Chief Aaron McLane, of the Air Force Reserve.

*The Commissioner's Meritorious Service Award will be presented to LaNova Pizza, Mr. Pizza and the Salvation Army, for their donations of food and beverages, and their presence throughout the marathon firefighting effort at the Chandler Street blaze.