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Firefighters Honored for Heroic Sandy Efforts

More than 40 emergency service personnel receive awards for assisting in the rescue of Officer Bob Franco and Assistant Fire Chief John Neukem during Superstorm Sandy.

Forty-three firefighters and a civilian dispatcher were honored at the council meeting on Wednesday for their participation in the rescue of police Officer Bob Franco and John Neukem during Superstorm Sandy.

Neukem and Franco were on Lake Drive West Oct. 29 when a tree fell on the vehicles they were occupying. Franco suffered a severe spinal cord injury and went through weeks of rehabilitation. Neukem, assistant chief of Co. 5, suffered minor injuries.

"The word brotherhood means more to me now than it ever did," said Barry Turner, fire commissioner. "There was no way that we were going to leave the scene that night without getting both of them out."

Neukem's vehicle was positioned so that he was able to see that the tree was about to fall. He warned Franco about it at the last second.

Neukem was able to radio in the distress call immediately. Emergency service personnel were on the scene within two minutes of the call. More than 100 personnel responded to the accident. 

It took an hour to extract Franco from the vehicle. 

"If it wasn't for [Neukem's] quick thinking we would have never known to get there as quickly as we did to save both of them," Turner said.

Franco attended the ceremony. He walked up to the front of the room unassisted, his neck kept immobile by a brace. 

Emergency dispatcher Patrick McGovern received an Honorable Service Award.

Neukem received a Meritorious Service Award.

The following fire fighters received Unit Citation Awards:

Community Fire Company 1

Fire Commissioner Barry Turner

Assistant Chief Gregory Laskowski

Lt. Rohit Guglani

John Smedile

John Turkousky

Christopher Kendall

William Rodriquez

Junior Firefighter Daniel Dominguez

Packanack Lake Fire Company 5

Chief Jason Jantzen

Capt. Jerry Ploehn

Lt. Timothy Maher

Chief Engineer William Reenstra

Junior Firefighter Robert Velardi

Michael Payne

Mark McGrath

William Fairweather

Richard Boonstra

Karl Stuhlmann

Chris Depetris

Tim Mulligan

Vincent Magistro

Adam Jacobs

Jose Olaya

Jesse Whitney

Robert Griffin

Dennis Petrusovich

Edward Thompson

P.O.L. Fire Company 2

Chief John Gabriel

Assistant Chief Steven Toth

Capt. Christopher Denovchick

Lt. Thomas Boughton

Jeffery Orland

Michael Hascup

Donald Royce

Michael Leonard

Keith Krzeminski

Timothy Velardi

Paul Velardi

Patrick Pochwatka

Nicholas Colazzo

Nelson Parrilla

— Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

evan January 08, 2013 at 04:19 AM
Why no mention of the EMTs of the Wayne First Aid Squad and Paramedics from St. Joseph's Hospital that also extricated and cared for the injured firefighter and officer?

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