ELIZABETH – This weekend firefighters and citizens from Elizabeth were honored at the New Jersey State Firefighter’s Mutual Benevolent Association Valor Awards Banquet. The event was held at Pines Manor and hosted by Tony Caputo who described the event as “honoring the bravest of the brave.”
Firefighters Oscar Barreto, Dean Melachrinos and Brendan McConway were awarded the 2015 Gold Medal of Valor for their actions at a multiple alarm fire on June 24, 2014 on Jersey Avenue that resulted in a ladder rescue of a woman from an attic window.
The Gold Medal of Valor is the most prestigious award presented by the NJFMBA and awarded for a heroic act involving a degree of danger with extreme personal risk above and beyond the call of duty.
Barreto and Melachrinos will also be honored by the 200 Club of Union County on May 8th at their 46th Annual Valor Awards Luncheon.
Captain Edward Nicholson with Firefighters Edward Sisk IV, Harry Streep, and Daniel Nina received a Group Effort Fire – Special Recognition Award for an aerial rescue of two children on August 29, 2014 at a working fire on Salem Ave. These children were being held out of a window from a 4th floor apartment which required their rescue.
This company also received a Fire Meritorious Award from the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey at their Valor Awards Dinner earlier in the month.
Captain Austin ‘Vic’ Bauer with Firefighters Nelson Navas and David Bialas were awarded a Brotherhood – Special Recognition Award for the successful resuscitation of a retired Elizabeth Fire Department Captain on June 21, 2014.
Brotherhood Awards are presented for actions that involve saving another member of the fire service. This company was also awarded an EMS Meritorious Award from the PFANJ.
Retired Captain William Lavin, former President of Local 9 and the NJFMBA, was honored with the 2015 Humanitarian Award for his efforts in establishing the Where Angels Play Foundation. This Foundation was born from the Sandy Ground Project that build playgrounds to memorialize the lives of those lost at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT.
These playgrounds were built-in areas of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. Lavin’s work comes full circle next month as first responders from Connecticut “pay it forward” by constructing a playground in Elizabeth.
Karla Coral, of RLS Media Solutions, was awarded the 2015 George Steele Media Award for her work covering benevolence work of FMBA Local 9, city events, and incidents responded to by the Elizabeth Fire Dept. Coral uses her writing talents to achieve the goals of her employer while portraying Local 9 and the Elizabeth Fire Dept in a favorable manner without the loss of accuracy of facts or information.
Nicole Bantin, daughter of Elizabeth Fire Dept. EMS Supervisor James Bantin, received a 2015 Civilian Award for her actions on October 20, 2014 at Immaculata High School in Somerville, that resulted in the saving of a fellow student who was in severe distress and required medical assistance. Her quick thinking and actions ensured recovery and a return to school for her fellow student in need.