Firefighter of the Year Award

2019 Winner

Jason Bernfeld

Melville Fire Department


Bernfeld Chief


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.


2019 Firefighter of the Year Sponsored by:


Past Award Recipients

1955J. Robert KramerLewis Tompkins Hose Company #1
1956Edward DixonGreat Neck Vigilants
1957William M. BelinsonEggertsville Hose Company
1958John Patrick Cronin IIITallman Fire Company #1
1959Dominic C. ZappiaMassena Fire Department
1960Donald BrownWest Carthage Fire Department
1961James GilliamLewiston Fire Company #2
1962Russell FleischmanWashington Engine Company #2
1963James H. JacksonAndover Fire Department
1964Donald H. PriceNyack Fire Department
1965Stephen R. BuckiHarris Hill Fire Company
1966Gary ElbertFlower Hill Hose Company #1
1967Gordon O. SchmidtSt. Paul Boulevard Fire Association
1968Jake ParrisPatchogue Fire Department
1969Thomas NamethSlater Chemical Fire Company
1970Charles L. OssontWestmoreland Fire Department
1971Barry SimmonsRhinebeck Fire Department
1972Hobart A. AbbeyForest View — Gang Mills Fire Deptartment
1973Harry CharkowMattituck Fire Department
1974John A. KeoghMattituck Fire Department
1975John Richard GreenMerrick Fire Department
1976Willard John HoytSouth Schodak Fire Company
1977Alton L. LewisMontour Falls Fire Department
1978George CannellaIslip Terrace Fire Department
1979Randall R. RhoadesEast Syracuse Fire Department
1980George Jerry DeanGates — Chili Fire Department
1981David A. SedlockMassena Fire Department
1982David L. CurleyDelhi Fire Department
1983Richard W. GehrtSmithtown Fire Department
1984Frederic FurmingerDepew Fire Department
1985Thomas A. PhillipsS. W.  Johnson Steam Fire Engine Company
1986Michael F. ReidMerrick Hook & Ladder Company #1
1987John L. HyzerBainbridge Fire Department
1988Paul Edward VinciguerraLindenhurst Chemical & Salvage Company #2
1989Robert A. FrankCentral Islip Fire Department
1990Robert HitchcockBlenheim Fire Department
1991Charles R. ZigrosserBayport Fire Department
1992George P. MotchkavitzGreat Neck Alert Engine Company
1993Robert PettigrewNorth Babylon Fire Company
1994Paul A. MacMurrayHudson Falls Fire Department
1995Kenneth T. JonesSayville Hook & Ladder Company #1
1995William H. Pyne IIISayville Hook & Ladder Company #1
1996David A. DiDioBellport Fire Department
1997Matthew F. MereckaFreeport Fire Department
1998Larry J. StumpoNorth Patchogue Fire Department
1999James S. FredericksMohegan Volunteer Fire Association, Inc.
2000Mark SposatoBrewerton Fire Department, Inc.
2001Raymond VallesOssining Steamer Company #1, Inc.
2001Donald J. FarrellCataract Hose Company #2
2001John SimkinsOssining Fire Department
2001William H. Brown IIIOssining Fire Department
2002Dedicated to those who died in the Line of Duty 9/11/01
2003Brian StevensManlius Vol. Fire Company, Inc.
2004John C. Glidden IIIHuntington Manor Fire Department
2004Frederick Steenson Jr.Huntington Manor Fire Department
2004Richard PrudenteHuntington Manor Fire Department
2005Joseph CirincioneRush Fire Department
2005Michael TerzoRush Fire Department
2005Peter HenryRush Fire Department
2005James BucciRush Fire Department
2006Richard J. GimblHolbrook Fire Department
2007Lieutenant Al CinottiWest Islip Fire Department
2008Lieutenant Edward KunzBay Shore Fire Department
2008Lieutenant John Ippolito Jr.Bay Shore Fire Department
2009Assistant Chief Timothy R. EllisNorth Syracuse Fire Department
2010Kevin OatmanVerona Fire Department
2010Aldo CacciottiVerona Fire Department
2010Jeff HugunineVerona Fire Department
2011Second Assistant Chief Brian J. LenaMahopac Volunteer Fire Department
2011Captain William J. “Billy” BahrMahopac Volunteer Fire Department
2012Andrew KolesarWest Haverstraw Fire Department
2013John CurleyBellmore Fire Department
2014Thomas J. GormanBohemia Fire Department
2015Frank CrispinMoyers Corners Fire Department
2015Steve ZaferakisMoyers Corners Fire Department
2015Phil VogtMoyers Corners Fire Department
2015Ryan WhitmoreMoyers Corners Fire Department
2015Jeremy CorsaroMoyers Corners Fire Department
2016Frederick KopfBaldwin Fire Department
2017Timothy DuckhamSmithtown Fire Department
2017Thomas KriklavaSmithtown Fire Department
2017Patrick DiecidueSmithtown Fire Department
2017Jennifer O’BrienSmithtown Fire Department
2017Joseph LaRoccoSmithtown Fire Department
2017John HansenSmithtown Fire Department
2018Peter DiPinto, Sr.Brookhaven Fire Department