May 14, 2009

Ceremony honors fallen firefighters, recognizes 40 others for life-saving acts of bravery
Hundreds of firefighters gather in Springfield for 16th Annual Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial, Firefighter Medal of Honor Awards Ceremony

SPRINGFIELD – Firefighters from across the state gathered in Springfield to remember six firefighters who died in service and honor 40 other firefighters for their outstanding bravery and service to their communities during the 16th Annual Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Firefighting Medal of Honor 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 a processional to the nearby Armory Building for the awards ceremony.

“The amazing bravery demonstrated by the firefighters being recognized here today proves that it takes an extraordinary person to be a firefighter,” said Illinois State Fire Marshal David B. Foreman.  “Day in and day out, these men and women put their lives on the line to protect us, and on behalf of Governor Pat Quinn, I am very proud to thank each of you for your dedication to public safety.  Today we’re also reminded of the dangers of this noble profession, as we solemnly honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives in the line of duty.”

Six firefighters who died in, or as a result of, the performance of duty were honored during the ceremonies as their families were presented with the Duty Death Gold Badge by Fire Marshal Foreman.  Those recognized include the late Donald “Lee” Grubor, a Deputy Fire Chief with the Lewistown Volunteer Fire Department; the late Matthew P. Hubly, a Fire Chief with the Kankakee Township Fire Protection District; the late Steve “Tiny” Kline, a Firefighter/Paramedic with the Stone Park Fire Department; the late William J. Miller, a
Firefighter with the Blue Mound Community Rural Fire Protection District; the late Brian J. Munz, a Firefighter with the Fairbury Fire Department; and the late Kerry R. Sheridan, a Fire Chief with the Troy Fire Protection District.

Certificate of Recognition awards acknowledge those nominated for awards for their dedication to the principles and traditions of the fire service.  The six Certificate of Recognition award recipients include:

• Lieutenant Larry Karp, Bensenville Fire Department
• Fire Paramedic Marc Augustine, Chicago Fire Department
• Paramedic in Charge Diane Heller, Chicago Fire Department
• Paramedic in Charge Christopher McCormick, Chicago Fire Department
• Fire Paramedic Brian McMahon, Chicago Fire Department
• Field Officer James O’Shea, Chicago Fire Department

Twenty-six 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:

• Lieutenant Steve Oros, Jr., Aurora Fire Department
• Battalion Chief Matthew Perez, Aurora Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Nevin Hahn, Bensenville Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Robert Locascio, Bensenville Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Brian Otto, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter Richard Pollack, Chicago Fire Department
• Captain Kevin Stawiarski, Chicago Fire Department
• Lieutenant Jeff Pilz, Hillside Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Christopher Salazar, Kankakee Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Paul Schebel, Lincolnshire-Riverwoods Fire Protection District
• Firefighter/Paramedic Casey Caldwell, Lockport Township Fire Protection District
• Firefighter/Paramedic Michael Callans, Lockport Township Fire Protection District
• Captain Joe Casagrande, Lockport Township Fire Protection District
• Firefighter/Paramedic Michael Femrite, Lockport Township Fire Protection District
• Lieutenant James Grady IV, Lockport Township Fire Protection District
• Firefighter/Paramedic Patrick Kelly, Lockport Township Fire Protection District
• Firefighter/Paramedic Christopher Kozak, Lockport Township Fire Protection District
• Lieutenant Larry Rittenhouse, Lockport Township Fire Protection District
• Firefighter/Paramedic Brandon Voight, Lockport Township Fire Protection District
• Firefighter Brian Fisher, Mendota Fire Department
• Firefighter Thomas Mahaffey, Mendota Fire Department
• Fire Chief Dennis Rutishauser, Mendota Fire Department
• Firefighter Nathan Tolley, Mendota Fire Department
• Engine 2, Niles Fire Department
• Truck 2, Niles Fire Department
• Engine 1, North Main Fire Department

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

• Engineer John Strocchia, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter/EMT Charles Thorton, Chicago Fire Department
• Captain Phillip Perkins, Kankakee Fire Department
• Lieutenant Thomas Krueger, Lincolnshire-Riverwoods Fire Protection District
• Firefighter/Paramedic Andrew Fitzgerald, Lockport Township Fire Protection District
• Captain Michael Scholle, Waukegan Fire Department

The Medal of Honor award, the highest award given to firefighters by the state of Illinois, was presented to two firefighters who were selected for their acts of outstanding bravery or 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:

• Lieutenant Nicholas Cairo, Chicago Fire Department
• Lieutenant/EMT Brian Corley, Chicago Fire Department

The awards presented today recognized heroic actions during 2007 and 2008.  Nominations were reviewed and winners selected by the ten-member Illinois Firefighting Medal of Honor Committee. 

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