Post 229 Honors EMT, Firefighter of Year

Chris Urban & Vernon Harris
Fire Chief Russell Brooks with Firefighter of the Year Joseph Puleo (c) and EMT of the Year Brian Bova (r).

UTICA, Nov. 1, 2012 – A paramedic who was recognized for valor in removing and treating a victim trapped in a house fire, and a firefighter cited for his community service and fire prevention efforts were honored by American Legion Post 229 as Emergency Medical Technician of the Year and Firefighter of the Year during ceremonies at the Utica Post Thursday evening (Nov. 1). The honorees are:

  • EMT of the Year Brian Bova, a firefighter/paramedic who has been with the Utica Fire Department since April 21, 2003. He became a certified paramedic in September 2001, prior to joining the department.
  • Firefighter of the Year Joseph Puleo, who joined Utica Fire Department on April 21, 2003. He also became a certified paramedic in 2004.

Utica Post 229 Commander Chris Urban announced the awards, along with Paul Wojcik.

"The first criteria (for the awards) is strength, courage and bravery on the fire ground," noted Fire Chief Russel Brooks.

He went on to cite Bova's "perseverance, dedication and commitment," and said Bova has received numerous citations and letters commending him for bravery and professionalism. For example, Bova was the incident commander involving a seven-person motor vehicle accident. "His thorough and efficient calls into the Resource Department at St. Luke’s Hospital, allowed the hospital to make the appropriate decisions regarding the patients' care," Brooks said. Another case involved a victim trapped inside a burning home. Bova "assisted with a quick interior fire attack," Brooks said. "The victim was removed from the home and then evaluated and treated for smoke inhalation."

Bova resides in Utica with his wife and three children.

Chief Brooks praised Firefighter Puleo not only for his "hard work and dedication as a firefighter," but also for his community service and fire prevention efforts.

"Just as important as suppression of fire is preventing fires," Brooks said. "He's our prevention guy." The fire chief said he gets calls from teachers, principals and parents, raving about Puleo's work with school children. He also represents the department on a volunteer basis at many community events, such as the Ride for Missing Children, building a house for Habitat for Humanity, and coordinating the department's presence at the Utica Zoo's Snowfari and Brewfest.

Puleo resides in Deerfield with his wife and three children.

The awards ceremony followed a dinner attended by Legionnaires, auxiliary members, and the families of both honorees. 

Urban noted that Post 229 would submit Bova and Puleo for the County level award.

Post 229 honors top firefighters every fall and police officers of the year in the spring.

Brian Bova
Brian Bova
EMT of the Year

Joseph Puleo
Joseph Puleo
Firefighter of the Year