The Bridgeport Fire Department held its first honors ceremony since 2008 recently, conferring its top awards on firefighters whose bravery and heroism saved residents’ lives.
“Our firefighters truly put their lives on the line every day to protect the citizens of Bridgeport,” said Fire Chief Rooney. “This is a time to publicly recognize them for these acts of bravery.”
Fire Capt. Frank Bridge received the Medal of Valor, the department’s second-highest award, for his actions on February 16, 2012, at a fire at 3260 Main St. Conditions were rapidly deteriorating in the building and there was a report of an occupant who was unaccounted for.
Bridge located the victim unconscious and dragged him out of the building to awaiting medics.
Five fire department employees received the Medal of Merit: Acting Driver Autumn Waggoner and Firefighter John Herring for a water rescue in Seaside Park in 2009; Lt. Darrien Penix for his actions at a structure fire in PT Barnum apartments in 2009; Firefighter Clayton Jurgens for his actions at a 2010 fire on Putnam Street and Benderoth.
The following were named Firefighter of the Year, with biographical information provided by William Kaempffer, the department spokesman:
Firefighter Charles Porzelt, of Monroe
Firefighter of the Year – 2009
Firefighter Charles Porzelt has consistently proven to set the ultimate example of professionalism and dedication in everything he does without ever looking for any recognition for his deeds. Prior to becoming a firefighter, FF Porzelt proudly served our Nation as a U.S. Navy Seal. Each year Firefighter organizes and runs the children’s Christmas Party even though it has been many years since his own children have attended. He and his family go out and purchase all the gifts, wrap and distribute them. He has dedicated his career to be one of the best driver/operators that Ladder 5 has ever had. His skills are second to none. Charlie also sits on the Board as Treasurer for the BFD Historical Society.
Lieutenant Matthew Deysenroth, of Redding
Firefighter of the Year – 2010
Lieutenant Matthew Deysenroth of Engine 3 is a dedicated fifteen year veteran of the Bridgeport Fire Department. Matt is very much involved with his brother firefighters efforts in supporting multiple programs within and outside the Department. He is one of the founding members of the Walter Flyntz Golf Tournament (est. 2000), Coordinator of MDA “fill the boot” campaign, worked to raise funds to replace the roof at FF Flyntz family home, personally designed the Ladder 11 Memorial T-shirts, one of the founding members of the Bridgeport Fallen Firefighters Foundation, and serves as Coordinator of the BFD vs. FDNY hockey game to benefit the MDA. Lieutenant Deysenroth’s ability to “get the job done” stems from many levels. Aggressiveness when needed, knowledge about the job at hand, and dependable no matter what the circumstances.
Lieutenant Andrew Ellis, of Brookfield
Firefighter of the Year – 2011
Lieutenant Andrew Ellis came to the Bridgeport Fire Department as a firefighter with passion to be one of the best in everything that he does. From a Firefighter, to driver/operator to his own command of Ladder 5, Lieutenant Ellis shows the true meaning of Honor, Courage, and Dedication to his brothers and sisters on the job. He always give 100% in everything that he does, whether it is in the station, on the fire ground, or volunteering his services to help raise funds for our Fallen Firefighters’ families. He cofounded The Fallen Firefighters Foundation and has donated countless hours promoting and selling items to raise funds.
Lieutenant Salvatore Emanuel, of Stratford
Firefighter of the Year – 2012
Lieutenant Salvatore Emanuel of Engine 10 has been an outstanding member of the Bridgeport Fire Department for almost twenty five years. As a firefighter, he had a reputation as one of the best “nozzle man” the department had. Upon his promotion, he continued as a superb engine officer in some of the busiest companies. While Lieutenant Emanuel’s on duty performance should be enough, it’s what he does off duty that truly sets him apart. Lieutenant Emanuel and his wife, Melissa (a nurse at Bridgeport Hospital) started a fundraising effort to support the hospital’s Burn Unit. This past Christmas, an anonymous gift was given to the members of Engine/Ladder 10 to use for their holiday dinner. Lieutenant Emanuel took the crew to a local supermarket and they used the donation to purchase gift cards and more presents for the needy families that they would see. Lieutenant Emanuel is deserving for his leadership, generosity and benevolence, both on and off the job.