Detroit Fire Department Firefighter Presented with FDIC’s Ray Downey Courage & Valor Award

Indianapolis, IN – FDIC (Fire Department Instructors Conference) kicked off on April 24 with its renowned Hands-on Training programs Monday and Tuesday. From there, the largest fire training event in the U.S. moved on to the moving Opening Ceremony that highlights the upcoming conference, gives attendees the chance to honor the fallen firefighters from the past year, and to honor the recipient of the Ray Downey Courage & Valor award.

Presented by Robert F. Biolchini, CEO of FDIC’s parent company PennWell Corporation, the award stemmed from the name and legacy of Deputy Chief Ray Downey of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) and memorializes all of the heroes lost on 9-11. On hand to participate in the presentation were FDNY Battalion Chiefs and sons of Chief Ray Downey, Joe Downey and Chuck Downey.

The award was presented this year to Senior Firefighter Sean Neary of the Detroit Fire Department. Along with recognition during the Opening Ceremony at FDIC, Firefighter Neary was also awarded a Courage & Valor medal and a $25,000 gift from the Courage & Valor Foundation. Neary saved the life of a father who was digging in an unsecured trench that collapsed, burying him up to his chest with dirt and clay. Neary’s exceptional courage came from the fact that he used his training to rescue the victim without the use of the appropriate technical rescue equipment.

“It’s an honor and privilege to be a recipient of this award. Chief Ray Downey’s a legend in the fire industry and an inspiration to all firefighters. Acts of heroism take place everyday across the country and firefighters should be recognized for what they do,” said Neary.

The award is funded by The Courage and Valor Foundation endowment, and assists the American fire service in annually recognizing Chief Downey together with another American hero whose act of bravery singles that person out for exceptional courage and valor in the line of duty while attempting to save lives.

Recipients are chosen by a selection committee that includes representatives from PennWell Corporation, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) and the National Fire Academy Alumni Association (NFAAA).

Chuck Downey, a member of the Ray Downey Courage & Valor award selection committee, reiterates the difficulty the selection committee faces every year in singling out just one firefighter for this award. Said Downey, “In the final analysis there was one (candidate) that stood above the rest. One candidate that my brother and I agreed reminded us by his actions of our father Chief Ray Downey – Senior Firefighter Sean Neary.”

“I am especially pleased to participate in the presentation of the fifth Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award. Chief Downey was an extraordinary man who, throughout his life, personified fire
service courage and valor. Chief Downey’s life was richer and more courageous than most men could ever dream of and yet like all firefighters he was a humble man,” said Biolchini.

Senior Firefighter Sean Neary exemplifies the traits that define courage and valor. Beyond that, Sean was the model of effective teamwork. He supported his officer’s decision to make the call and he led his team successfully in saving a life. Sean placed the lives of those he swore to protect above his own and valiantly placed himself in mortal danger for his fellow man.”

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