Northeast Times

Firefighters honored during Recognition Day

A hero’s hon­or: Dozens of fire­fight­ers re­ceived awards dur­ing the an­nu­al Fire­fight­er Re­cog­ni­tion Day on Sept. 8. WIL­LI­AM KENNY / TIMES PHOTO

Five mem­bers of the Phil­adelphia Fire De­part­ment’s formerly se­greg­ated En­gine 11 were among dozens of fire­fight­ers, para­med­ics and ci­vil­ians honored dur­ing the an­nu­al Fire­fight­er Re­cog­ni­tion Day, presen­ted by Loc­al 22 of the In­ter­na­tion­al As­so­ci­ation of Fire Fight­ers on Sept. 8.

Bat­talion Chief Wal­ter Lind­say and Fire­fight­ers Waldo Gentry, Lloyd Ama, Al­fred Ward and Clar­ence Bro­g­den all served with En­gine 11 at 10th and South streets in the 1940s and early ’50s, when the com­pany was the de­part­ment’s de facto Afric­an-Amer­ic­an unit, and oth­er fire­houses were re­stric­ted to whites.

Loc­al 22, which rep­res­ents about 1,900 act­ive and 2,100 re­tired fire­fight­ers and para­med­ics, in­aug­ur­ated the Life­time Achieve­ment Award to re­cog­nize the five minor­ity re­tir­ees, who were fea­tured in a short doc­u­ment­ary film shown dur­ing the af­ter­noon din­ner at the uni­on hall. Mi­chael Feagans, the son of a de­ceased En­gine 11 mem­ber, pro­duced and nar­rated the film.

Now loc­ated at Sixth and South streets, En­gine 11 was one of the ori­gin­al 22 com­pan­ies in the city’s first mu­ni­cip­al fire de­part­ment, es­tab­lished in 1871, ac­cord­ing to an art­icle pub­lished by the His­tor­ic­al So­ci­ety of Pennsylvania on www.phil­aplace.org

The de­part­ment hired its first Afric­an-Amer­ic­an fire­fight­er, Isaac Jac­obs, in 1886 and as­signed him to En­gine 11. The second Afric­an-Amer­ic­an fire­fight­er, Steph­en E. Presco, joined the de­part­ment in 1905. As oth­er Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans fol­lowed their lead, they were all sta­tioned at En­gine 11. Of­ten, the unit’s su­per­visors and com­mand­ers were white. The com­pany and fire de­part­ment re­mained of­fi­cially se­greg­ated un­til 1952, al­though true in­teg­ra­tion pro­ceeded slowly over many years, ac­cord­ing to the HSP art­icle.

In the film, former En­gine 11 mem­bers noted that even dur­ing the se­greg­a­tion peri­od, fire­fight­ers of all back­grounds united with a single pur­pose when on the job, fight­ing fires and sav­ing lives.

“Days like today and ce­re­mon­ies like this are im­port­ant to what we do, be­cause as fire­fight­ers and para­med­ics, we don’t do what we do for ac­col­ades,” said Loc­al 22 Pres­id­ent Joe Schulle dur­ing the Sept. 8 awards ban­quet.

The uni­on’s re­cord­ing sec­ret­ary, Mike Bresnan, presen­ted Medal of Hon­or awards to the fam­il­ies of three fallen fire­fight­ers, Capt. Mike Good­win, Lt. Robert Neary and Fire­fight­er Daniel Sweeney. Good­win’s son, Mi­chael Jr., was among those ac­cept­ing the award on his fath­er’s be­half. The Park­wood res­id­ent is now a vo­lun­teer fire­fight­er with Uni­on Com­pany 37 in Corn­wells Heights and is study­ing in Bucks County to be­come a pro­fes­sion­al fire­fight­er. He hopes to take the Phil­adelphia Fire De­part­ment test later this year.

“[These awards] just show what fire­fight­ers do every day, fight the good fight and serve the com­munity,” Good­win said.

Oth­er honorees were: Bob McHugh, Bri­an Powers, Po­lice Of­ficer Bonny Li­hotz and Tina Cur­tain (Fire­fight­er Friends Award); Jill Overn (Me­dia Award); John Dougherty (Uni­on Solid­ar­ity Award); Tom Drumm (Home As­so­ci­ation Plaque); Patrick Murphy (John “Moon” Re­illy Award); Capt. Ron­ald Ra­gen, Lt. Wal­ter Faber, Fire­fight­ers Joseph Cris­anti and Krys­tal Moore, along with Feagans (Com­munity Ser­vice Award);

Mi­chael Ku­cowski and Mi­chael Wat­son (Pres­id­ent’s Award); Lt. John Fo­ley, Fire­fight­ers Dave Tizol, Patrick Kling, Mike Rauch, Gary Taylor, Dav­id Web­ster, Mike O’Rourke and Joe Woods, along with Para­med­ic Colleen Snyder, Naz Gagliard, Devon Ri­chio and Bruce Bow­man (Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice Award);

Para­med­ics Jef­frey Schurr and Patrick Carey, along with Fire­fight­ers Daniel Tygh, Den­nis McDaniels, Daniel Car­ri­on, Jason Teszn­er, Joseph Rus­sel and Jay Bo­sak (Hero­ism Award); Ed Grugan (John Red­mond Award); Fire­fight­er Larry Moore (City Coun­cil Dis­trict 8 Award); Capt. Robert Wilson (City Coun­cil Dis­trict 9 Award); Lt. Tony Pan­e­bi­anca (City Coun­cil Dis­trict 10 Award). ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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