Mayor W. Reed Gusciora announced yesterday, Aug. 12, that four City of Trenton firefighters have received the American Legion Firefighter of the Year Team Valor Award for rescuing an unconscious Trenton resident within minutes of responding to a house fire in June 2020.

Left to right – Captain Vincent Przemieniecki, Firefighter Akiyse Watkins, Willie J. Smith of The American Legion Mitchell A. Davis Post 182, Firefighter Michael Szabo and Firefighter Peter Mancini

Captain Vincent Przemieniecki and firefighters Akiyse Watkins, Peter Mancini and Michael Szabo of Rescue Company 1 were presented with a plaque on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021 at the Trenton War Memorial.

In the early morning of June 9, 2020, the Trenton Fire Department responded to reports of a fire at a residence on the 600 block of Martin Luther King Blvd that possibly had trapped occupants inside. Fire was already visible from the windows when they approached the property. Przemieniecki and Szabo began a search on the first floor, while Watkins and Mancini searched the second floor.

When Mancini and Watkins climbed the stairs inside the house, they were met with high heat and thick black smoke as well as an active fire engulfing the front bedroom. While searching the floor, Watkins discovered a semi-conscious victim on the hospital bed and radioed Przemieniecki, who helped arrange an EMS team to wait for the victim outside.

In order to buy them time to rescue the victim, Mancini crawled down the hallway to shut the door to the bedroom where the fire was spreading. Szabo joined them on the second floor and the three firefighters, while dealing with rapidly deteriorating heat and visibility conditions without the protection of a hose line, successfully maneuvered the victim down the stairs and out to EMS personnel in front of the property.

“There is no doubt that Trenton is blessed with an exceptional fire department made up of individuals who regularly put their lives at risk to protect our residents and minimize property damage,” said Mayor Gusciora. “Their speed, organization, teamwork and bravery were on full display in this incident and resulted in the best possible outcome. I’m grateful to the American Legion for recognizing their service.”