Three City of Allentown firefighters have been honored with a Valley Preferred Spirit of Courage Award.
Lieutenant Jeremy Warmkessel and firefighters Dustin Grow and Michael Matchette were among those honored last night during a celebration at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Muhlenberg. The award recognizes persons who perform an heroic act to save someone from burn injury or death.
Lieutenant Warmkessel was feted for his October 2012 rescue of now three-year-old Tristan McCants. The child was found lying on a bed on the second floor of a burning building on Chew Street. Realizing that the youngster was in respiratory distress, Warmkessel placed his own breathing mask over the boy’s face and safely got him out of the building.
The child suffered second and third degree burns in the fire. He was among those present at last night’s event to honor the award winners.
Firefighters Grow and Matchette were honored for their rescue of individuals from a burning building in April of last year. Grow and Matchette are credited with conducting an exhausting search of the second and third floors of a boarding house during a fire at 724 N. Seventh Street. The men located a victim and moved that person to safety. Both firefighters then had to change out air cylinders as they ran out of air. They re-entered the burning structure and then located yet another victim, who they also moved to safety.
For their efforts, Firefighters Grow and Matchette were honored for heroism by the Allentown Fire Department last year.
Retired Allentown Fire Marshal Gregory Long was also honored last night with a Partner in Prevention Award. Assigned to the Fire Prevention Division, Fire Marshal Long taught Allentown school children about fire safety over a 20 year career before retiring in 2007.
According to the Burn Prevention Network website, “Valley Preferred, the Burn Prevention Network and the Regional Burn Center and Burn Recovery at Lehigh Valley Hospital launched the Valley Preferred Spirit of Courage Award Program in 2006 to honor people in eastern and northeastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey who risked their lives to save others from a burn or death by fire. The program recognizes individuals and groups that have done an outstanding job of promoting fire safety or burn prevention education.”
The City of Allentown Fire Department’s annual memorial and awards service will be held at 10am on Thursday, October 17 at Cedar Crest College.