Allentown firefighter Chad Ege is being recognized as the 2021 Allentown Fire Fighter of the Year. He was honored this morning at the Allentown Fire Department’s annual memorial service and awards ceremony at the Scottish Rite Cathedral.
Ege joined the department in 2008. He commands the department’s bomb squad and is a member of the hazardous materials team.
According to Allentown Fire Chief Efrain Agosto, “Chad has become someone to be relied on by officers and looked up to by junior firefighters. He is considered an all-around outstanding firefighter and an integral member of the department. During his service to the department, he has been recognized and received several awards and commendations including a couple Meritorious Awards for Heroism.”
Agosto added, “As bomb squad commander, Chad has coordinated many training sessions for other departments and jurisdictions. Because of actions such as these he has earned the respect of the other team members and other agencies within the local, state, and federal levels.”
The Alfred W. Fischl Fire Service Award was presented to Assistant Chief Michael Zellin for his consistent and dedicated work ethic throughout his 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.
Zellin started his career in October 1995 serving 15 years as a firefighter. As a firefighter he worked as a Reserveman, Truck 2 Pipeman, Engine 10 Pipeman, and Engine 9 Driver. In 2015, he was promoted to Fire Marshal, a position he held until promotion to Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention this year. During his over 10 years serving as Fire Marshal, he became a trusted trainer and mentor to all who have been assigned to the Fire Marshal’s office.
During Fire Prevention Month, the department recognizes firefighters for their actions over the past 12 months. In addition to Firefighter of the Year and the Alfred W. Fischl Award; Certificates of Heroism, Bravery and Merit, a Chief’s Award, Years of Service awards and Unit Citations are presented.
Mayor Ray O’Connell told those in attendance, “As I approach the end of my term here in the City of Allentown, I don’t have to tell you how grateful we all are for the work done by our first responders. Since, March of 2020 and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, you have been responding to calls not knowing what new silent dangers to your health may be lurking ahead. You have continued to do your jobs and do them well. You are well respected in this city, and we are fortunate to have you.”
The Chief’s Award goes to individuals who go above and beyond in fostering the department’s image through activities and events they attend and facilitate outside their normal working hours. This morning it was presented to Firefighter Adam Perreault.
Perreault has selflessly donated many hours of his personal time to the YMCA Fire House Friday program, the Syrian Arab American Cultural Association of Allentown food pantry, The Valley Health Partners Street Medicine Team, and other organizations that provide healthcare and human services to the underserved homeless community throughout the Lehigh Valley.
At the Syrian Arab American Cultural Association of Allentown Perreault often serves as the point of contact helping organize manpower to pack and distribute food boxes to families in Allentown.
Perreault has testified on behalf of the department before state legislative committees in Harrisburg speaking to matters that affect our community, like issues involving the dangers of consumer fireworks.
A 25-year service award was presented to Battalion Chief William Held, retired Captain Mark Kresge Sr. and Lieutenant Charles Haydt. Twenty-year service awards were bestowed upon Lieutenant Joseph Gostonyi, Lieutenant Paul Heckenberger and Firefighter Wadih Atiyeh.
Four firefighters were cited for heroism for rescuing and resuscitating an unconscious burn victim from a May 16, 2021, fire at 136 N. 2nd Street. Captain James Boyle and firefighters Ege, Steven Costa and Robert Dobrick, III brought out the victim who has since recovered. Unit citations were awarded to the four for their fire suppression efforts along with battalion chiefs Bryce Thompsen and Sean O’Neill; Captain Kevin Baer; lieutenants Theodore Maguire, Keith Pierce, James Saylor and William Warren; Fire Marshal Michael Achey; and firefighters Perrault, Adam Banotai, Andrew Bausher, Matthew Dunfee, Michael Evans, Jonathan Flissar, Brennen Harding, Joseph Kemmerer, Steven Munsch, Roger Scheirer, Jonathan Steed, Jason Tatum, Daniel Werkheiser and James Wescoe. EMS paramedics Scott Brokaw, Stephanie Burke, Cody Colon, Libro Giovarelli, Kevin Krotzer, Andrew Stevens and Ryan Trexler were recognized with certificates of appreciation.
Certificates of Merit were awarded to four firefighters for their efforts to save a suicidal male who had threatened to jump from the 8th Street Bridge this past July. Lieutenant Saylor, and firefighters Leroy Bachert, Jonathan Hammel and Nicholas Koedyker played a part in safely helping the man over a fence and onto a ladder. They also received unit citations along with firefighters Costa and Andrew Drake. Certificates of Appreciation were bestowed upon APD sergeants Christie Correa, Chris Hendricks and Mark Holubek, and officers Thomas Cunningham, Andrew Holveck, Jorge Medero and John Turoczi.
Fire Marshal Achey and firefighters Steven Foulke and Aaron Pychinka were awarded Certificates of Merit and unit citations for their operation of a rescue boat in flood waters caused by the remnants of Hurricane Isaias in August 2020. They rescued people stranded by rising water in automobiles, homes and businesses. Unit citations were also awarded to Battalion Chief Held, captains Baer and Peter Lenig; lieutenants Haydt, Heckenberger, Jason Custer, Christopher Gerencher and Jaime Miranda; and firefighters Atiyeh, Bachert, Perrault, Steed, Tatum, Werkheiser, Adam Arndt, Jeremy Bellois, Jake Bykerk, William Gauntner, Devin Grow, Kevin Jefferson, Mark Kennedy, Chad Long, Peter McAllister and James Soccodato.
Lieutenant Saylor and firefighters Banotai and Jason Campanella were awarded Certificates of Merit for saving the life of a choking 1-year-old. Certificates of Appreciation from the operation at a home on Alton Avenue this past February went to former EMS Operations Chief Bryan Fritz and paramedics Krotzer, Stevens and Michael Bruneio.
The extrication of a patient who had become trapped between a tractor and a trailer on N. Dauphin Street in late September 2020 earned a dozen firefighters unit citations. They were awarded to Assistant Chief Matthew Eharth, Battalion Chief Philip Atiyeh; lieutenants Christopher Groller, Michael Smith and Jeremy Warmkessel; and firefighters Dunfee, John Burkhardt, Thomas King, Michael Kostick, Nathan Krajcirik, Todd Sterner and Todd Weisel. Paramedics Fritz, David Ober, Patrick Stankovic, Travis Tripp and Adam Wilson earned Certificates of Appreciation.
Lieutenant Warren and firefighters James Alpha and David Fuica received unit citations for administering to a patient who had suffered cardiac arrest at East Side Youth Center in late February 2021. APD officers Lonnie Klusaritz and Kirk Pierson were first of the scene and were honored with Certificates of Appreciation along with EMS paramedics Philip Banks, Shannon Scoble and Stacy Vibbert.
Lieutenant Pierce and firefighters Soccodato and Wescoe were awarded unit citations for the March 2021 rescue of an unresponsive female due to an overdose.
Twenty-seven firefighters were awarded unit citations for knocking down a row home fire in the 600 block of N. Howard Street on a windy night in April 2021. There was minimal fire and smoke damage to the units which were able to be reoccupied that night. The citations went to Chief Agosto, Battalion Chief Thompsen, captains Baer and John Christopher, lieutenants Gerencher, Groller, Maguire, Warren and William Henry; and firefighters Bausher, Dobrick III, Drake, Ege, Fuica, Harding, Kemmerer, Perreault, Scheirer, Soccodato, Tatum, Werkheiser, Wescoe, Kevin Cannon, Ronald Conway Jr., James McGuire, Jeffrey Tomczak and Samuel Vassallo. A Certificate of Appreciation went to Air 1.
Firefighter Arndt received a Certificate of Merit for his actions during the 27-inch February 2021 snowstorm. Arndt manned a plow over a 15-hour period opening streets for fire and EMS crews. Arndt uncovered fire hydrants and opened a pathway for aerial apparatus to battle a building fire on N. Meadow Street.
The department awarded seven Civilian Certificates of Appreciation.
Isaiah Hoffman was recognized for helping his mother get help when she was burned in a fire at their home. The Allentown Health Bureau was cited for its COVID-19 vaccination program. Mission BBQ and the Nico C. Elias Funeral Home were recognized for providing food to first responders. Home Depot donated lunch, hand sanitizer and personal protective items, Jeannie Shott donated Scott equipment and the O’Grady Quinlan Academy of Dance put on a performance for all first responders at Mack South Fire Station.