By Karen Zautyk
The Meritorius Acts Review Board (MARB) of the Kearny Fire Department recently held its 1st annual awards ceremony, honoring both firefighters and civilians.
The board, comprising deputy chiefs, captains and firefighters, presented the citations at a dinner at the former Boystown campus, attended by not only the award recipients but friends and family.
Unit Citations, represented by a new uniform bar designed by Capt. Kevin Donnelly, were presented to men who took part in two particular 2013 incidents, their actions judged to be “in the highest tradition of the fire service.”
Cited for their actions during a March 10, 2013, fire at 600-602 Frank Rodgers Blvd. in Harrison were KFD Capts. Jerry Coppola and Rod Nardone and Firefighter Dave Russell.
Kearny had responded along with Harrison, East Newark and Jersey City but, as noted in the letter of commendation, “conditions rapidly deteriorated, resulting in a major backdraft explosion.”
Three Jersey City firefighters were thrown from the structure and onto the sidewalk, but there were two trapped in the burning building. “With little regard for their own safety,” Coppola, Nardone and Russell, rushed inside, found the missing men and rescued them.
A video aired at the awards ceremony illustrated the power of that explosion and drew gasps from the attendees.
The second cited incident occurred Dec. 16, when a construction worker was injured on a barge in the Hackensack River off South Kearny. Because of small gangways and slippery conditions, before the victim could be safely removed and taken to a hospital, KFD members had to cut guardrails, lash gangways together to create a wider one 15 feet above the river and ensure even weight displacement as the rescuers maneuvered on a 15-degree incline.
Cited for their ingenuity, teamwork and bravery were: Capts. Tom McDermott, Dave Kealy and Kevin Donnelly, Acting Capt. Mike Kartanowicz, Deputy Chief Frank Viscuso and Firefighters Gene Richard, Tony Calabro, James Kroll, Rich Lowinger, Chris Stopero, Ed Ryan, Mike Richardson, Art Bloomer and Ian Kaneshige.
The Life Saving Awards were presented to 2013 Fireighters of the Year Michael Janeczko and Andrew O’Donnell for their rescue of fellow KFD members trapped in a Jan. 20, 2013, house fire on Devon St.
The roof of the building collapsed, burying several firefighters under burning debris. Janeczko and O’Donnell braved the flames, located their “brothers,” dug them from the rubble — and saved their lives.
For the first time, MARB this year selected three civilians for its honors.
One recipient of an appreciation award was Dave Moran of Moran Towing of Kearny, which has been in business since 1974. He was cited for providing the vehicles, and the site, for KFD members “to train extensively on automobile extrications.” Which, if you have ever witnessed one, is a complicated operation.
Rob Neu of River Terminal Development in South Kearny was honored for various contributions, including: furnishing the original Fire Station #4, assisting the KFD’s rooftop solar-panel training and allowing KFD access to River Terminal buildings so members “can learn and understand building construction” and for training in confined spaces.
And the third civilian award? It was a Media Appreciation citation, which was presented to your humble correspondent for continued support of the department. We are truly honored to have been selected for the first such award by the KFD.