Almost Unprecedented–Heroic Actions of Andrew Kolesar Earn him Sixth Honor

West Haverstraw volunteer named Hudson Valley Firefighter of the Year

West Haverstraw volunteer firefighter Andrew Kolesar has been named the Firefighter of the Year by the Hudson Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association. It is the sixth time that Kolesar, a former chief of the West Haverstraw Fire Department, has been honored for a rescue January, 2011.

Kolesar will receive his award at the Hudson Valley Association’s annual convention June 22 in South Glens Falls, N.Y., accompanied by his wife, son, daughter and a color guard of firefighters from his company, Volunteer Hose Co. 2, West Haverstraw.

Kolesar is being honored for the Jan. 14, 2011 rescue of his captain, Kenneth Patterson, of Volunteer Hose 2 when Patterson ran out of air and collapsed while searching the second floor of 222 Westside Ave., Village of Haverstraw, an illegally-converted dwelling.
“I was at the right place at the right moment,” Kolesar said of the Jan. 14 rescue . “I knew he was nearby me, but I couldn’t see him.” Using a thermal imaging camera, Kolesar located Patterson, whose face mask was already taken off after it collapsed because of lack of air.
Kolesar grasped Patterson’s air-pack straps, pulled him out of the room and slid with him down the stairs, where they met with two other firefighters. Patterson was treated for extremely high carbon monoxide levels in a hospital, but was released to recover at home.

Previously, Kolesar was awarded the DeFumere Medal of Valor March, 2011 by Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef. The medal is awarded to an individual emergency service first responder who, in recognition of extreme bravery and heroism under life-threatening conditions, goes above and beyond in the call of duty to keep the Rockland County community and its residents safe.

In June 2011, Kolesar was named Firefighter of the Year by the New Jersey and New York Volunteer Firemen’s Association, and received the same honor from the Rockland County Volunteer Firemen’s Association at its September 2011 convention. This April, Firehouse magazine cited Kolesar’s rescue as number 21 of the top 25 in the United States for 2011.

Last month, Congresswoman Nan Hayworth honored Kolesar with a congressional commendation award for the January 14, 2011 rescue. The volunteer is also a firefighter with the NY City Fire Department, assigned to an engine company in Spanish Harlem.