FDNY Medal Day
The 2012 Medal Day winners with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano and Chief of Department Edward Kilduff.
The FDNY celebrated its best and bravest at Medal Day on June 6 at the 69th Infantry Regiment Armory in Manhattan. The annual event included 66 individual medals and four company medals to members who went above and beyond the call of duty.
“The proudest day of the year for – without a doubt – the greatest group of firefighters, paramedics and EMTs in the world,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano added, “Today we at the FDNY are a happy family, sharing traditions that date back 143 years.”
Receiving the year’s Dr. Harry M. Archer Medal, awarded once every three years to one of the FDNY’s James Gordon Bennett Medal winners, was Firefighter Peter Demontreux from Ladder 132. The firefighter saved two victims from a burning brownstone in Brooklyn on Aug. 30, 2010, and was awarded the Bennett medal in 2011.
“This is a proud day – a fun day – for the firehouse,” he said, noting that another firefighter from his company – Sean Heeran – also was receiving a medal at the ceremony.
Winner of the James Gordon Bennett and the NYS Honorary Fire Chiefs Association Medal was Firefighter Kevin Hogan from Ladder 114. He saved 11 people from a fire in Brooklyn on March 13, 2011, including one woman who gave birth a month later.
“This is an amazing day, I’m very proud,” Firefighter Hogan said, adding “I’m lucky to work in an area with many excellent firefighters.”
Although he and his company, as well as the members of Engine 201, received seven medals at the ceremony for rescuing 31 people from that fire, he said he was proud of and grateful for the members from Engine 241 and Ladder 109.
“It was a team effort, and without them, we couldn’t have done the job we did that day,” he said.
Top EMS honors went to EMS Lt. Derrick Simpkins and EMT James Hyams, both from Station 58, who won the Christopher J. Prescott Medal.
The two men saved a life of a construction worker who had been struck by a beam and fell while working on a house that was being built over the water in Brooklyn on July 25, 2011. They had to maneuver around unstable staircases, walking across narrow slats that went over water and weak floor beams to reach the patient and then remove him.
When he learned he received the medal, along with the Ulyses Grant Leadership Medal, Lt. Simpkins said, “I just did my job that day; I wasn’t trying to win anything. I feel honored that they appreciate what I did.”
Receiving this year’s Lieutenant Kirby McElhearn Medal were Paramedics Samantha Neverson and Michael Toomey from Station 32. They were dispatched to a fire near their location in Brooklyn on July 26, 2011.
They were the first unit on the scene, and hearing screams from inside the building, did a floor by floor search to ensure everyone was out safely. Paramedic Toomey also closed the door of the fire apartment to keep the fire from spreading. They then helped with on-scene medical care.
“We don’t do our jobs to get [a medal], but this is nice,” Paramedic Toomey said. His father, Firefighter John Toomey, was killed in the line of duty in 1987.
Paramedic Neverson added that for her, winning a medal was “one of those things you don’t expect.”
Also attending the ceremony was Duncan and Nancy Burke. The couple from Connecticut was in Colorado a couple years ago when they met some FDNY families and started talking about the Thomas E. Crimmins Medal.
Mr. Burke said he knew his family was involved in establishing the medal, but learned it was an important award still included in FDNY Medal Day ceremonies. After doing more research, he said he learned the medal was turning 100 years old in 2012.
It was first awarded by Mr. Burke’s grandmother, May Burke, in memory of her father, Thomas Crimmons, who was a contractor, builder and son of a volunteer firefighter. She provided in her will the endowment for the Medal.
Mr. Burke brought the original medal with him, which was set in a bronze frame with a green velvet matt.
“It’s very exhilarating to be here,” Mr. Burke said.
The Crimmons Medal presented at the ceremony to Firefighter Ronald Daly from Rescue 4 looks identical, though it may be a little bigger than the original. They added that they were thrilled to meet the members of Rescue 4 on the subway platform on the way to the awards ceremony.