Glassport father-son firefighters honored by insurance company
A Glassport father-and-son firefighting team has been recognized by a national insurance company.
Glassport's Citizens Hose Co. No. 1 fire Chief Wayne Lewis received Liberty Mutual Insurance's Firemark Award for Community Service and Public Education at Thursday night's fire company meeting. Lewis' award was won largely based on his efforts with swiftwater rescue in Allegheny County.
His son, fire Capt. Wayne Lewis III, received Liberty Mutual's Firemark Award for Heroism for his efforts in fighting a three-story funeral home fire along Mitchell Avenue in Clairton on July 29 around 3 a.m.
Chief Lewis, 51, of Glassport leads 39 active members in his company and has 34 years of experience. He started as a firefighter at age 18, and has been chief since 2001.
“In our business, you're only as good as the people that surround you,” he said. “We have great people. This place is like family to all of us. It starts from the 14-year-olds all the way up to the lifetime members of this department. We worked hard. We're getting to be the old-timers around here, but we feel comfortable as lifetime members. We know these young individuals can take this department and lead it to the next generation where we might not be able to take them.
“Each member that's present here today is a great asset to the department as well as the community. It's just not for me, it's about them,” he said.
Deputy fire Chief Jonathan Petrick, a firefighter for the past 14 years, said he has learned a lot from Chief Lewis.
“It's an honor to work under Wayne,” Petrick said. “From the time I was a junior firefighter working under him, I've learned so much from him. His tenure as chief, he's one of the best there is around, one of the most knowledgeable, one of the smartest, calmest chiefs under pressure I've ever seen. We can't be more proud than (to) see him get recognized for an award like this. He definitely deserves it.”
Chief Lewis said a swiftwater rescue committee was formed in 2010 after he spoke with McKeesport deputy fire Chief Chuck Margliotti, who was elected river rescue coordinator for the Mon Valley that year, and former Allegheny County emergency management coordinator Bob Full.
The Allegheny County Swiftwater/Flood Response Team has grown to 71 members. Chief Lewis is the Monongahela and Youghiogheny rivers supervisor. About 22 of those members are from Glassport, Chief Lewis said.
The chief said he's always pushing for more training for his firefighters.
“We always have to make our personnel ready for anything,” he said.
Last summer in Clairton, Capt. Lewis, 24, of Glassport was attempting to extinguish hot spots through the roof of the funeral home after cutting holes in it when he fell and injured his back, hips and legs. “After the ventilation operation's done, it turned into fire suppression where we could extinguish the fire from the roof area,” Capt. Lewis said of the incident. “Whenever we were finishing opening up inspection holes, a little bit of the roof gave way in the corner that was adjoining to the other exposure we did save. I went through down to my hip area, and I was tangled with my air pack.”
Firefighters Frank Cobb and Anthony Foster assisted to remove him. Capt. Lewis' injuries caused him to miss work for four months.
He said he didn't expect to be rewarded.
“It's an honor to get something (when) you do something for free,” he said. “I'd help anybody in a minute. It makes me feel good.”
“It's an honor to receive these two awards from Liberty Mutual for these two firemen we have here,” said fire company president Ray Johnson. “You can't ask for two better volunteer people in this community. They dedicate their time and all their hard work in this company. They're an asset to this fire company. They do a wonderful job. Anything I ask them for they do. I think it's an honor to work with these guys on a day-to-day basis.”
Liberty Mutual sales representative Mark Kurchena and sales intern Jessica Hardin presented the awards.
“I feel honored (to present the awards),” Kurchena said. “People don't realize what these guys go through. If they actually did, maybe they'd be a lot more supportive, I'll say that.”
Liberty Mutual began a local award program 20 years ago to recognize firefighters throughout the country who best represent their communities through courageous acts and who best demonstrate firefighters' selfless spirit.
The award's name comes from the “firemark” — a leaden plate in the form of a phoenix rising from the ashes, which American fire offices in the 18th and 19th centuries used to mark the houses they insured.
The Lewises are in the running for the national award, which comes with a $10,000 donation to the fire company and a four-day vacation for the recipient to Walt Disney World. Winners will be announced in April.
The chief was nominated for the award by members of the community. His son was nominated by those in his department.
The chief said they were not told who actually nominated them.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- McKeesport student’s prize-winning song about brother helps ease family’s grief
- McKeesport teacher among winners at Champions of Learning awards dinner
- Program details women’s work in Mon-Yough area mills during World War II
- Mon-Yough area first responders say drivers need to stop, pull over
- Closed Bottom Dollars in Homestead, McKeesport to become Aldi stores
- Steel Valley police departments remind parents of restrictions at the Waterfront
- Clairton schools honor alumni in mentoring program
- Elizabeth Forward senior builds his own canoe in school’s lab
- Munhall council authorizes parks and recreation panel
- Cause of weekend Duquesne house fire under investigation
- Petition challenges end 1 North Versailles candidate’s run for judge