top of page

FASNY Honors Fire & EMS Heroes for Dramatic, Life-Saving Rescues

Awards presented at 147th annual FASNY Convention in Liverpool, NY

(August 12, 2019 – Syracuse, NY) The 147th Annual Convention of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) concluded on the morning of Sunday, August 11, with the presentation of FASNY’s highest honors: the Firefighter of the Year and EMS Provider of the Year Awards. The 2019 recipients of these prestigious awards were from the Melville (Suffolk County) and Brighton (Erie County) Fire Departments, respectively. Both recipients are volunteer firefighters who were honored for dramatic rescues that saved the lives of civilians in peril.

Below are more details concerning both awards, rescues, and recipients. Photos of the recipients at the awards ceremony are available HERE (all photos should be credited to Mitch Wojnarowicz for FASNY).

Member of the Melville Fire Department Named Firefighter of the Year by Firemen’s Association

One of Melville’s Bravest Receives Top Honor

The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) has announced that Jason Bernfeld, a 16-year member of the Melville Volunteer Fire Department, has been named “Firefighter of the Year” after a rescue following a motor vehicle accident. Bernfeld was honored at the 147th FASNY Convention, which was held in Syracuse, New York.

“Assistant Chief Bernfeld acted heroically and selflessly to rescue this individual,” said FASNY President Steve Klein. “His intervention and quick action saved this person’s life, and we are proud to name him as the 2019 Firefighter of the Year.”

Bernfeld, a Third Assistant Chief in the Melville Fire Department, is being honored for extracting a driver from their overturned and on fire vehicle before it was engulfed in flames, undoubtably saving the victims life. He will receive this award for demonstrating this extraordinary heroism under intense conditions. In addition to volunteering as a firefighter, Bernfeld also works for the New York City Police Department’s Mounted Unit.

“We are thrilled that Jason has been selected as Firefighter of the Year,” said Melville Fire Chief Chris Nolan. “His quick action serves as an inspiration for all of us in the Melville Fire Department, and we are proud that he is one of ours.”
“It is an honor to be named Firefighter of the Year,” said Assistant Chief Bernfeld. “I am thankful that I was in the right place at the right time, and that my training as a firefighter helped me to be prepared me for this rescue.”


The morning of March 12, 2018, Third Assistant Chief Jason Bernfeld was traveling westbound on the Northern State Parkway. He observed what he believed to be the taillight of a vehicle that had driven off the road.

He immediately stopped his vehicle and confirmed that it was an overturned vehicle that had slid down the embankment and into a tree. Bernfeld saw that the driver was still inside the vehicle, so he entered through the broken rear window to help.

Upon entering the vehicle, he saw that it was on fire and that the driver was being burned on his legs. Bernfeld, who grew up in Melville and has been with the department in some capacity since he first joined as a teen, returned to his vehicle and grabbed a fire extinguisher and seatbelt cutter.

He was able to knock back the flames and cut the seatbelt from the driver. Bernfeld then dragged the occupant out of the vehicle through the rear window to the embankment

Shortly after removing the driver from the vehicle, it became completely engulfed in flames. The fire was extinguished by about two dozen Melville firefighters, who arrived at the scene with two engines, two ambulances, a heavy rescue truck, paramedics and another Chief. The driver was transported to Nassau University Medical Center for treatment of cuts, pain to his neck and back, and leg burns.

Bernfeld undoubtedly prevented the death of the driver.

Veteran Erie County Firefighter Named 2019 EMS Provider of the Year

Brighton Firefighter Christopher Tracey Honored for Resuscitating Drowned Child

The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) has named Christopher Tracey, veteran of the Brighton Volunteer Fire Company No. 5 in Erie County, as the 2019 EMS Provider of the Year. Firefighter Tracey has been recognized for acting above and beyond the call of duty in resuscitating a child who drowned.

Firefighter Tracey was feted in a ceremony at the 147th Annual FASNY Convention at the Holiday Inn in Liverpool, New York, on Sunday, August 11.

“Were it not for the decisive actions of Christopher Tracey, this child would have perished,” said FASNY President Steven E. Klein. “Firefighter Tracey’s quick response and flawless execution of CPR prevented a tragedy. His heroism serves as an inspiration for us all, and he is a truly deserving recipient of this prestigious award.”

Christopher Tracey joined the Brighton Volunteer Fire Company No. 5 in April of 1998 at the age of 21. Since joining, he has held a variety of fire officer positions, including terms as Lieutenant, Captain, Assistant Chief, and Chief of the Department. Firefighter Tracey works for the Town of Tonawanda Highway Department, and resides in Tonawanda with his wife, Jennifer, and their three children, Alexis, Brayden, and Harper.

“It is both honoring and humbling to accept this honor,” said Christopher Tracey. “I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time, equipped with the necessary training and tools to save this child’s life. This incident demonstrates how effective skills like first aid and CPR can be and shows the importance of the long hours of training we first responders commit to. The results can literally be lifesaving.”
“We are delighted that Chris has been recognized by FASNY,” said Brighton Volunteer Fire Company No. 5 Chief Andrew Hallnan. “We all aspire to live up to the example Chris set at this incident and applaud him for his heroic and decisive actions. We are so proud to call him one of our own.”


The evening of July 12, 2018 was like any other, with a group of friends and family enjoying one another’s company alongside an inground pool. But in an instant, things changed from lighthearted to potentially tragic. A two-year-old child fell into the pool, where they remained for a brief period before being spotted by Firefighter Christopher Tracey and another party attendant. Leaping into action, Firefighter Tracey and the other guest pulled the child out of the pool. She was not breathing and blue. 

Firefighter Tracey immediately began to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (also known as CPR) on the child as another person dialed 9-1-1. Emergency medical service (EMS) units were immediately dispatched while Firefighter Tracey continued lifesaving efforts. By the time the EMS workers arrived on the scene, the child was responsive and breathing on her own. She was transported to the hospital where she made a full recovery, without any long-term effects from the incident. 

The paramedics who responded to the call directly credited Firefighter Tracey’s heroic efforts with saving the life of this child. The rescue is a testament to the quick action of Firefighter Tracey and his training, and clearly demonstrates how quality, timely CPR can save lives.



Founded in 1872, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) represents the interests of the more than 105,000 volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel in New York State.  For more information, visit


bottom of page