Ceremony Honors Fallen Firefighters, Recognizes Others For Life-Saving Acts Of Bravery

Hundreds of firefighters gathered in Springfield for the 22nd Annual Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial, Firefighter Medal of Honor Awards Ceremony

SPRINGFIELD –-(ENEWSPF)–May 12, 2015.   Firefighters from across the state gathered in Springfield on Tuesday, May 12th, to remember firefighters who died in service and honor 39 other firefighters for their outstanding bravery and service to their communities during the 22nd Annual Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Firefighter Medal of Honor Awards Ceremony.

The ceremony began in the State Capitol Complex area with the presentation of colors and an invocation at the Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial, followed by the awards ceremony at the Prairie Capital Convention Center.

“It is an honor to be associated with the courageous firefighters being recognized. Their actions epitomize the high standards that the fire service has set for firefighters.” said Acting State Fire Marshal Matt Perez. “I have no doubt that today’s award recipients consider their extraordinary efforts to be an ordinary part of their jobs. It is that kind of humility that keeps firefighters so proficient at what they do.  It is with great pride that I thank these individuals for their service and dedication to the ideals that the fire service is founded on.  Today we also solemnly honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice to uphold those ideals and have given their lives in the line of duty.”

Three firefighters received the Certificate of Recognition Award for their dedication to the principles and traditions of the fire service, to the state and the community.  Recipients include:

• Firefighter Chris Frawley, Collinsville Fire Department
• Firefighter Mike Harris, Collinsville Fire Department
• Lieutenant Eric Schrage, Collinsville Fire Department

Eighteen firefighters received the Firefighter Excellence Award for an act of service in the line of duty, demonstrating excellence and professionalism in service to the citizens of the state of Illinois.  Recipients include:       
• Firefighter/EMT John McClement, Blue Island Fire Department
• Lieutenant Joseph Olson, Blue Island Fire Department
• Fire Chief Jeffery Kraft, Calumet Park Fire Department
• Firefighter James Danaher, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter/EMT Stephen Grandberry, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Christian Howe, Chicago Fire Department
• Engineer Lloyd Leftridge, Chicago Fire Department
• Lieutenant/EMT Michael Rogers, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter Kurt Litteken, Collinsville Fire Department
• Firefighter Steve Reed, Collinsville Fire Department
• Firefighter Steven Peters, Quincy Fire Department
• Firefighter Jamie Pieper, Quincy Fire Department
• Firefighter Nathan Pool, Quincy Fire Department
• Captain Bernard Vahlkamp, Quincy Fire Department
• Firefighter Mike Kushner, Tinley Park Fire Department
• Firefighter John Nagle, Tinley Park Fire Department
• Engineer Patrick O’Dwyer, Tinley Park Fire Department
• Lieutenant Todd Swartzentruber, Tinley Park Fire Department

In addition, 11 firefighters were recognized for acts of heroism that clearly demonstrated courage and dedication in the face of danger. Medal of Valor award recipients include:

• Paramedic Field Chief Mitchell Bartecki, Chicago Fire Department
• Fire Paramedic Brian Byrnes, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter Patrick Burns, Chicago Fire Department
• Fire Paramedic Tomasz Oszkinis, Chicago Fire Department
• Ambulance Commander Jason Raymond, Chicago Fire Department
• Paramedic in Charge Timothy Rottman, Chicago Fire Department
• Paramedic in Charge Christopher Soda, Chicago Fire Department
• Lieutenant/Paramedic Joseph Solcani, Chicago Fire Department
• Lieutenant/Paramedic Mark Cavaletti, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter/EMT Michael Rowan, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter/EMT Steven Ruebe, Chicago Fire Department

The Medal of Honor award, the highest award given to firefighters by the State of Illinois, was presented to seven firefighters who were selected for their acts of outstanding heroism, by which they demonstrated selflessness and personal courage above and beyond the call of duty, under adverse conditions, with the possibility of extreme personal risk.  Recipients include:

• Firefighter Thomas Garswick, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter Jason Lach, Chicago Fire Department
• Lieutenant John Gricus, Chicago Fire Department
• Captain Michael Scarnavack, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter Christopher Guare, Glen Ellyn Volunteer Fire Company
• Firefighter/Paramedic Benjamin Bezaire, Naperville Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic William Kostelny, Naperville Fire Department

The awards presented today recognized heroic actions during 2013 and 2014.  Nominations were reviewed and winners selected by the ten-member Illinois Fire Fighting Medal of Honor Committee. 

Source: illinois.gov