Andrew Kolesar, who saved the life of a fellow West Haverstraw volunteer firefighter during a blaze in an illegally divided up home, was named the Rockland Firefighter of the Year on Friday night by the Rockland County Volunteer Firemen’s Association at its 99th annual convention.
The convention at the Rockland Fire Training Center in Pomona and was hosted by the Columbian Fire Engine Co. No. 1 of Spring Valley, also saw the re-election of Frank Voce as president of the organization.
Today, celebrations continue as the firefighters gather in Spring Valley for their annual parade, which is dedicated this year to the Columbian Fire Engine Co. in honor of its 150th anniversary of service.
Kolesar, a volunteer with Volunteer Hose Co. 2 of the West Haverstraw Fire Department, was honored for rescuing his captain, Ken Patterson, from a fire in a home at Westside Avenue in Village of Haverstraw the night of Jan. 14. Kolesar is a full-time firefighter in New York City and earlier this year was named New York-New Jersey Firefighter of the Year and received the county's annual Deflumere Valor Award during Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef's state of the county speech in March.
Two special awards were made to Rockland Sheriff’s Department dispatchers Troy Spong and Brendan Fridhandler, whose telephone actions the night of Nov. 1, 2010, while talking to trapped residents in a New City house fire helped all occupants to escape safely. Members of the New City Fire Department honored Spong and Fridhandler for their efforts in the 223 Zukor Road fire in January.
The fire destroyed the house just south of South Mountain Road and the structure has been demolished.
Re-elected with Voce, of the Congers Fire Department, were Paul Schlegel of the Stony Point Fire Department as first vice president and John Intrieri of the West Haverstraw Fire Department as second VP. The balance of the unopposed slate was John Kryger, corresponding secretary; Bruce McClintock, recording secretary; Robert Capello, financial secretary; and Mike Kramar, treasurer.
A memorial service was held during the convention for all association members who have died since the last convention as well as a special 9/11 remembrance. Life membership and longevity certificates were distributed to 25 and 50-year association members
The annual President’s Award was given to Ron Ciolfi of Tappan for more than 20 years of service as the RCVFA Orangetown Town Vice President.
The annual Liberty Mutual Insurance Fire Mark award for excellence in fire prevention was presented to Vincent Pacella, fire prevention officer of the Nanuet Fire Engine Co. The Rockland County Fire Instructors’ Association presented a $1,500 Lt. Andrew Fredericks Memorial scholarship to Carlyle Taylor of West Nyack, a nursing student at East Carolina University.
Volunteer fire companies recognized for anniversary milestones were Empire Hose Co. No. 1 of the Piermont Fire Department, 160 years; Columbian Engine Co., Spring Valley, 150 years; S.W. Johnson Steam Fire Engine Co., West Haverstraw Fire Department, 135 years; Chelsea Hook & Ladder Co. No. 2 of the Nyack Fire Department for 120 years; John Paulding Engine Co., Sparkill Fire Department, 110 years; and, Suffern Hook & Ladder, 110 years.
The convention parade in Spring Valley steps off at 2 p.m. today. It starts in front of 200 N. Main St., heading south on Main Street to Maple Avenue, West on Maple Avenue to West Street; south on West Street and ending at the corner of West Street and West Central Avenue. The reviewing stand is in front of Columbian Fire Engine Co. No. 1 on West Street.