Former UMass Baseball Player Andy Pelis Named Northampton's Firefighter Of The Year
April 24, 2006
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -
by Dan Crowley, Hampshire Daily Gazette
Surrounded by family, friends and co-workers Fire Capt. Andy Pelis was honored Thursday as Firefighter of the Year in the Council Chambers of the Puchalski Building.
"We really looked at who contributed significantly, and held the respect of everyone in the department," Fire Chief Brian Duggan said in presenting the award. "There is no one more deserving than Andy."
Duggan cited Pelis' work in leading the Fire Department's training program.
He also noted that Pelis undertook a 'difficult and heartfelt task' when he served as a liaison between the department and the family of Donald A. Willard, a 27-year firefighter who died of cancer at age 62 in November. Willard's wife, Jean Willard, attended the meeting Thursday.
Firefighter Matt Lemberg, last year's firefighter of the year, also was on hand to pass along the honor to Pelis whom he described as 'a phenomenal gentleman to work with.'
In receiving the award, Pelis, 33, thanked his family, which includes his wife Megan, and two young daughters, Abby and Emilia. Megan Pelis received a bouquet of flowers at the ceremony.
An eight-year veteran, Pelis said he is fortunate to work in the Northampton Fire Department, and praised his fellow firefighters.
"They make my job enjoyable," Pelis said.
The firefighter of the year award is now in its fifth year, and has become an increasingly meaningful honor within the Fire Department, Duggan said.
"It's really become an award people want to get and cherish," Duggan said.
Other nominees this year included Jack Favaro and Daniel Galica. The pair spent more than a month assisting Hurricane Katrina evacuees in the South last year.
Dan Crowley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.