PINELLAS PARK — A firefighter who saved two dogs has been named this city's Firefighter of the Year.
The Pinellas Park Fire Department also named a Paramedic of the Year and Employee of the Year.
• Firefighter of the Year is firefighter/paramedic Brian Fazekas. He was selected in part because of his actions after a Nov. 20 mobile home fire. After firefighters left the structure, the owner asked about her pets. Fazekas went back into the building and passed two large cages of birds to other firefighters. He hauled out a cage containing two unconscious dogs. He got on the radio and asked for the dog resuscitative oxygen masks to be brought to the side of the house where he gave aid to the injured animals. Both dogs survived.
• Firefighter/paramedic Robert Angell was named Paramedic of the Year. Angell answered a call about an unconscious child at a day care next door to Fire Station 33. The 5-year-old child died of cardiac arrest, but fire officials said Angell's performance was exemplary under pressure and duress. In the days after the child's death, Angell contacted the family to offer help. Department officials said Angell's professionalism and caring were the few bright spots in the tragedy.
• Fire inspector/investigator Gary Berkheimer was named Fire Department Employee of the Year. Berkheimer was nominated for his active role in advancing the public knowledge of home sprinkler systems and how they save lives. He got a grant from the Home Fire Sprinkler coalition to build a side-by-side demonstration structure that can be set on fire to show how a single fire sprinkler can extinguish a room and its contents within seconds of a fire starting.
Berkheimer also worked with an insurance company and local contractors to have a residential fire sprinkler system installed at no cost to the owner or insurance company in a rebuilt home that had been destroyed by fire.