Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award: Rusty Brown

Firefighter Rusty Brown, Cobb County (GA) Fire and Emergency Services, was awarded the 2018 Ray Downey Courage and Valor award at FDIC International. Brown, a nine-year member of the fire service, responded on October 10, 2017, to a call for assistance from the Monroe County Fire Department. Two brothers, ages 17 and 12, had fallen from the top of the waterfall in High Falls State Park. Bystanders on scene located the 17-year-old standing in the waterfall and called 911.

Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award: Rusty Brown

Brown responded with the pilot of a helicopter as part of the Georgia State Patrol Aviation. They assessed the situation and developed a rescue plan. Brown had to operate without a personal flotation device because of the size and turbulence of the waterfall. In fact, the waterfall washed him out and away from the victim on his initial approach. Brown had to make several attempts to get the rescue strap around the victim. Ultimately, Brown was lifted by his legs with the victim attached to him. Brown was inverted with his head under the water. He was injured in the rescue.

Other nominees for the 2018 Courage and Valor Award were the following: Engineer Travis Haldeman, Clark County (NV) Fire Department; William V. Harris IV, Central Nyack (NY) Fire Department; Lieutenant James Hinson, Paris Landing (TN) Fire Department; Firefighter Scott Kohler and Firefighter Matt Towner, Clackamas (OR) Fire District 1; Assistant Chief John McPartland, Christiana Fire Company, Newark, Delaware; and Firefighter/Paramedic Todd Zobrist, Highland (IL) Fire Department.

PennWell’s Robert F. Biolchini Memorialized at Opening Ceremony

The late Robert F. Biolchini, former chairman of the board of PennWell Corporation, was remembered with a tribute and a moment of silence at the Opening Ceremony of FDIC International on April 25. Biolchini designed and initiated the Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award and had presented the award to the recipients since its inception. This year, Mr. Biolchini’s son, Tobin, made the presentation.

In his memorial address, Bobby Halton, educational director of FDIC and editor in chief of Fire Engineering, noted: “Longtime FDIC loyalists knew Mr. Biolchini from his appearance at FDIC to greet the fire service members and to present this award. What you may not know is that he admired and loved all firefighters, very, very much. He was moved beyond words by Chief Downey, you, and every other man and woman who made the necessary sacrifices to be a firefighter.”

The sons of Ray Downey expressed their appreciation for the honor Mr. Biolchini bestowed on their father and the fire service. “On behalf of the entire Downey family, we thank our Dad’s friend, the late Mr. Biolchini, for all he did to honor not only my Dad but the fire service as a profession,” stated Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Battalion Chief Joe Downey, son of Ray Downey. “He was truly my Dad’s friend; they bonded, as men of consequence and purpose do, in unspoken but deeply personal ways.”

FDNY Battalion Chief Chuck Downey added: “As a family, we have been blessed. We live in the greatest nation of all time. We serve in the greatest profession of all time. We are grateful for our good health, loving relationships, and strong faith. And among those wonderful gifts is this moment, which Mr. Biolchini is responsible for and to whom we will always be grateful. May he rest in peace.”

Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award: William Goldfeder

William “Billy” Goldfeder was awarded the 2018 Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement award at FDIC International. Chief Bobby Halton and Eileen Cress, daughter of Tom Brennan, made the presentation.

Goldfeder, a deputy chief in the Loveland-Symmes (OH) Fire Department, has been a firefighter since 1973, when he joined the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department in Long Island, New York. He has been a chief fire officer since 1982 and has served as a chief in Ohio, Virginia, and Florida. He is a 1993 graduate of the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program and the former chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs VCOS Committee. He has been actively involved in the fire service and has many notable achievements.

Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award: William Goldfeder

Probably one of his best-known activities is his affiliation with www.FireFighterCloseCalls.com, a 100-percent, noncommercial, independent, and free site with firefighter survival as its sole focus. In 1998, he, along with the widely recognized authority on risk in public safety Gordon Graham, created that Web site. Goldfeder is a news and editorial columnist for Fire Engineering.com and FirefighterNation.com and has a monthly column “Nozzlehead,” which has appeared in FireRescue for the past 20-plus years. He is the author of the best seller PASS IT ON; the royalties derived from its sale are being donated to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the Chief Ray Downey Courage and Valor Scholarship Fund. Royalties from his second best seller Pass It On … The 2nd Alarm will be distributed to the same beneficiaries and the Firefighter Cancer Support Network.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is named for Tom Brennan, who was the editor of Fire Engineering for eight years and a technical editor. Brennan had more than 35 years of fire service experience, including more than 20 years with the Fire Department of New York and five years as chief of the Waterbury (CT) Fire Department. He was co-editor of The Fire Chief’s Handbook, Fifth Edition (Fire Engineering Books, 1995) and the recipient of the 1998 Fire Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award.

FE/ISFSI Instructor of the Year: Paul Combs

Lieutenant Paul D. Combs of the Bryan (OH) Fire Department is the recipient of the 2018 Fire Engineering/International Society of Fire Service Instructors George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award. Presenting the award at the FDIC 2018 General Session on Thursday, April 26, were Steve Pegram, ISFSI president, and Glenn P. Corbett, technical editor, Fire Engineering.

FE/ISFSI Instructor of the Year: Paul Combs

“Please know this recognition doesn’t belong to me but to everyone who has helped me along the way, and to my family, who supports my crazy dreams,” Combs noted. An instructor since 2000, Combs also instructs through his cartoons depicting timely fire service issues. They appear in Fire Engineering, FireRescue, and JEMS.

The award incorporates the Fire Engineering Training Achievement Award previously presented at the FDIC. It is named for George D. Post, a long-time member of the ISFSI and a member of the Fire Department of New York. Post was an illustrator for fire service publications and developed instructional materials. Many consider him to be the father of visual training materials for fire service personnel.



March 23. Firefighter Larry Marusik, 86, Ellinger Volunteer Fire Department, Fayette County Office of Emergency Management, La Grange, TX: injuries sustained while fighting a grass fire on March 10.

March 24. Lieutenant Tom Craigo, 40, Pratt (WV) Volunteer Fire Department: vehicle collision while responding to a multiple-fatality vehicle crash.

March 24. Assistant Chief Michael Edwards, 46, Pratt (WV) Volunteer Fire Department: vehicle collision while responding to a multiple-fatality vehicle crash.

March 30. Second Assistant Chief Timothy Wayne Royce, 58, Mapleton (MN) Fire Department: heart attack suffered on March 29.

April 1. Firefighter/Paramedic Richard L. Garner Jr., 29, Madison (WI) Fire Department: unknown.

April 3. Firefighter Caleb Scott, 29, North Richland Hills (TX) Fire Rescue: reported heart attack.

April 5. Assistant Chief Bernard Olive, 68, Baytown (TX) Fire Department: to be determined.

April 8. Chief Richard L. Sale, 58, Reynolds Volunteer Fire Department, Asheville, NC: motor vehicle accident.

April 17. Firefighter/Paramedic M. Kent Stillwagon, 52, Greeenlawn (NY) Fire Department: cardiac arrest suffered on April 16.

Source: USFA Firefighters Memorial Database


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