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Rockland Hero Named NY and NJ Firefighter Of The Year

Andrew Kolesar rescued fellow West Haverstraw volunteer from burning house

Whenever volunteer firefighter Andrew Kolesar talks about what happened at 333 Westside Ave. in Haverstraw on Jan. 14, he says he was just doing what he was trained to do — react in an emergency.

That day, he pulled fellow West Haverstraw Volunteer Hose Co. No. 2 volunteer Capt. Ken Patterson out of the second floor of a house that had been cut up into tiny apartments. Patterson, who was searching for fire victims, himself became a victim when he became trapped and ran out of air in his portable tank.

For his efforts that day, Kolesar has already been honored by fellow firefighters in Rockland County. But on Friday, Kolesar is set to be honored as the New Jersey and New York Volunteer Firemen’s Association “Joseph Costello Firefighter of the Year.”

In the Jan. 14 fire, Kolesar, using a thermal imagining camera, found Patterson and dragged him to safety. This is the second time Kolesar has been NJ&NY firefighter of the year.

Kolesar lives in the Village of Haverstraw with his wife and two children. He is a New York City firefighter who works in Spanish Harlem in Manhattan. He is also an instructor at the Rockland County Fire Training Center.

While his actions at the fire at 333 Westside Ave. have earned honors for Kolesar, he and other Rockland volunteer firefighters have used that fire as an example of the need for tougher enforcement of building codes in the county. Firefighters say they face danger on a daily basis from homes that have been illegally chopped up to create numerous apartments.

Rockland County, state and local officials recently met to discuss a renewed push to confront landlords who are responsible for creating fire traps.

The New Jersey and New York Volunteer Firemen’s Association was officially organized in the Park Ridge, NJ, fire house, March 27, 1914, uniting the volunteer fire companies along the New Jersey & New York Railroad, now the Pascack Valley Line of NJ Transit. The association soon grew to include all volunteer fire companies in Bergen and Rockland Counties.
The 1st annual convention of the association was in Spring Valley, hosted by the Spring Valley Hook & Ladder Company on July 25, 1914.

juan lopez May 31, 2011 at 11:26 PM
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juan lopez May 31, 2011 at 11:31 PM
nice story. to bad as stated that the house was cut up into tiny apts it indeed wasnt and to bad the firemen that assisted in rescuing capt patterson were not recognized.
tom kelty June 01, 2011 at 01:21 AM
Congrat's Andy.... I know your dad would have been beaming with pride ! Sorry he isn't he to share with you but he is smiling proudly... know that! What a great accomplishment.
Frank R. June 01, 2011 at 02:08 AM
I went to HS with Andy, he was a great guy then helping out, always looking out for the other guy and standing up for them...So, As I am proud to hear/read this I'm not surprised.....this comes natural to Andy. I salute you sir!!!
John Kryger June 05, 2011 at 08:41 PM
juan lopez? You haven't got a clue, bud.

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