Allentown Fire Department Firefighter Peter McAllister is being honored as the 2016 Allentown Fire Fighter of the Year. McAllister was recognized at the Allentown Fire Department’s annual memorial and awards service held this morning at the Scottish Rite Cathedral as part of Fire Prevention Month.
The department recognizes firefighters for their actions over the past 12 months. In addition to Firefighter of the Year, the department presents the Alfred W. Fischl Award, a Chief’s Award, Certificate of Merit and Years of Service awards and Unit Citations.
Firefighter McAllister joined the United States Army after high school and is still active in the Army National Guard. He joined the Allentown Fire Department in 2007 and graduated from the Fire Academy in May 2007.
McAllister began as a reserve firefighter and jumped at the chance to get to one of the busiest engines in the city. He has been the driver and pipeman of Engine 9 which is involved in most any incident that occurs in the city.
McAllister holds many certifications such as Firefighter I and II, EMT, and Hazardous Materials Technician. He joined the Hazardous Materials response team in 2012 and was appointed assistant Hazmat Operations officer in 2015. McAllister has been instrumental in helping reorganize the team assisting with equipment inventory, training, updating team SOP’s, and other administrative duties.
Engine 9 is the rescue engine for Center City and besides carrying a complement of vehicle extrication tools, it also carries tools for specialized rescue. Firefighter McAllister identified a need to secure equipment that could address some rescue responses in a more efficient manner. He played a large part in evaluating and securing new technology, so the Fire Department could provide better service for the residents of the city.
Fire Chief Lee Laubach calls McAllister “an overall powerful individual who is always willing to step forward and improve any aspect of the fire department.”
Mayor Ed Pawlowski told the firefighters in attendance, “We salute your courage, bravery and loyalty.”
The Alfred W. Fischl Fire Service Award was presented to Battalion Chief William Held 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.
Battalion Chief Held’s experience includes nine years as a firefighter, one year as a Fire Specialist, four years as a Lieutenant, two years as a Captain and currently three years as a Battalion Chief in charge of the 2nd Battalion.
According to Chief Laubach, “his unparalleled work ethic and leadership skills were exemplified during the 2011 gas explosion at 13th and Allen streets where he was instrumental in setting up operations to combat the extreme conditions of that night and with making sure that all fire personnel and civilians were out of harm’s way.”
Battalion Chief Held is credited with leading by example, and in addition to running his platoon, he has been given the responsibility of commanding the honor guard team and coordinating details for special events and funerals. Since taking over, he has elevated the image and professionalism of the team to a higher level.
The Chief’s Award, which 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, was presented to Captain Jim Kutz.
Captain Kutz started a nonprofit group called Hounds on Working Leashes or HOWL. The group raises funds for equipment and supports the everyday needs of emergency service K9s. The group is committed to providing K-9’s with supplies that will be needed to help them complete their everyday roles in the field.
Over the last few years HOWL started providing vests for Allentown Police K9’s as well as other working dogs throughout the country. HOWL has also been instrumental in providing needed equipment, like a hoisting harness and a cleaning tub to decontaminate AFD Arson K9 Judge after an investigation.
Twenty year service awards were presented to Battalion Chief William Held, Assistant Chief Chris Kiskeravage, Captain Mark Kresge and Lieutenant Charles Haydt. Firefighter Kevin Frantz was recognized for 25 years of service.
Seventy-three members of the department were awarded a Unit Citation for their work during the January 23, 2016 blizzard. They are: Assistant Chief Christopher Kiskeravage; Battalion Chiefs William Held and Jeffery Hess; Captains Mark Kresge and Bryce Thompsen; Lieutenants David Arner, Trevor Beers, James Boyle, Jack Bryant, Jason Custer, Christopher Gerencher, Christopher Groller, Charles Haydt, Paul Heckenberger, William Henry, Peter Lenig, Jaime Miranda, Michael Pychinka, Thomas Rychnovsky, Michael Smith, Jeremy Warmkessel and Robert Xander; Fire Marshals Michael Barron and Michael Zellin; and Firefighters Michael Achey, James Alpha, Wadih Atiyeh, Leroy Bachert, Andrew Bausher, Jeremy Bellois, Rodney Bolton, Robert Brett, Michael Brosky, Timothy Bruce, John Burkhart, Jake Bykerk, Ronald Conway, Kirk Cressley, Theodore Dale, Paul Dannecker, Austin Deutsch, Steven Foulke, Kevin Frantz, William Gauntner, Dustin Grow, Jonathan Hammel, Kevin Hodgskin, Michael Humes, Kevin Jefferson, Mark Kennedy, Vincent Kidd, Thomas King, Nicholas Koedyker, Michael Kostick, Nathan Krajcirik, Randy Krause, Chad Long, Michael Matchette, Michael Milkovitz, Christopher Mokris, Steve Munsch, Adam Perrault, Aaron Pychinka, Anthony Rosanio, Roger Scheirer, Zachary Shepard, Eric Sommers, Jonathan Steed, Jason Tatum, Paul Taus, Todd Weisel, Daniel Werkheiser and Christopher Williams.
Unit Citations were awarded to department members who battled a three alarm fire last month at the Islamic Education Center at 1109 Linden Street. They are: Battalion Chief Phillip Atiyeh; Captain James Kutz; Lieutenants Jonas Gostonyi, Peter Lenig, Theodore Maguire, Craig McGinnis, Jeremy Warmkessel and William Warren; Fire Marshal Ian Lenig and Firefighters James Alpha, Adam Banotai, Timothy Bruce, Jason Campanella, Kevin Cannon, Ronald Conway, Matthew Eharth, Michael Evans, Dustin Grow, Joseph Kemmerer, Vincent Kidd, Randy Krause, Peter McAllister, Adam Perrault, Onix Reyes, Jonathan Steed and James Wescoe.
Unit Citations were awarded to 26 firefighters on the scene of a three alarm fire structure at 224 South Carlisle Street. Awards were presented to: Battalion Chief Phillip Atiyeh; Captain James Kutz; Lieutenants Kevin Baer, Christopher Groller, Peter Lenig, Theodore Maguire, Craig McGinnis, and William Warren; Fire Marshal Ian Lenig; and Firefighters James Alpha, Adam Banotai, Timothy Bruce, Jason Campanella, Ronald Conway, Steven Costa, Chad Ege, Mike Evans, Jonathan Flissar, Joseph Kemmerer, Vincent Kidd, Randy Krause, Onix Reyes, Zachary Shepard, Jeffrey Tomczak, Samuel Vassallo and James Wescoe.
Firefighter Zachary Shepard was awarded a Certificate of Merit and Unit Citation for securing a hostile dog who was protecting a deceased homeowner. Unit Citations in the incident were also awarded to Lt. James Boyle, and firefighter Rodney Bolton. The police department praised the three for their professionalism.
Firefighter Keith Pierce was awarded a Certificate of Merit and Unit Citation for his rescue of a puppy that fell into an old 21 foot deep well. Unit Citations in the incident were also awarded to Battalion Captain Phillip Atiyeh, Captain James Kutz, Lieutenants Jack Bryant and Craig McGinnis and firefighters Timothy Bruce, Jason Campanella, Jeremy Nyemscek, Jeffrey Tomczak and Peter Zondlo.
Certificates of Merit were awarded to Deputy Chief James Wehr, Assistant Chief Christopher Kiskeravage, Captain John Christopher, Lieutenants Theodore Maguire and James Saylor and Firefighters Steven Foulke and Jason Tatum for their role in the January 2 recovery of the body of a 5-year-old autistic boy from the Lehigh Canal.
The department also presented three Certificates of Appreciation. Woodlawn Fire Company was honored for supplying its mobile air unit to the AFD at a number of fire scenes. Mountainville Crime Watch was cited for its donation of a K9 Safety Collar for K9 Judge and State Farm Insurance and Canary Home Security were lauded for the donation of 400 home monitoring devices for first responders in the city.