Firefighter of the Year Award

2021 Recipients

Mark Miller and John Tighe

Lindenhurst Fire Department

Firefighter of the Year Application Download Application


On October 19, 2020, a vehicle was traveling eastbound on Montauk Highway with two people inside when their car was struck by another vehicle, sending them into a canal. The Copiague Fire Department was alerted and the Lindenhurst Fire Department was activated for mutual aid.

Second Lieutenant John Tighe was at his residence when he heard the crash and immediately rushed toward it. Firefighter Mark Miller was driving on Montauk Highway when he saw the car in the canal and immediately pulled over to help. The man driving was removed by bystanders as both Tighe and Miller arrived. They jumped into the water as the car sank with the second victim, an elderly woman, still inside the vehicle.

With the car now submerged in eight to 10 feet of water, Tighe, Miller, a Suffolk County police officer and a civilian tried several times to break the car windows to reach the trapped victim. Miller attempted to break the windshield with a hammer, but it dropped into the water. He swam back to shore and was handed a cinder block. This time attempted to break the rear window, but the cinder block fell into the water. Miller then swam back to shore for a second cinder block and returned to the vehicle. This time, he was successful in breaking the rear window.

At this point, Miller tried to enter, but there was an obstruction blocking the window. He then attempted to get in through the driver’s side window while Tighe continued to work on the rear window. After several attempts, Tighe was able to remove the obstruction from the rear window. He then made entry and successfully removed the victim from inside.

Once removed, they used the police officer’s ring buoy to bring the victim to shore, where Firefighter John Tighe, Sr. and other bystanders were waiting with a rope. They wrapped the rope around her arms and hoisted her out of the water.

While on shore, an off-duty Lake Success police officer found the victim had no pulse and began CPR. After several minutes of CPR, she regained a pulse with shallow breathing. The Copiague Fire Department transported her to Good Samaritan Hospital, where she recovered from her injuries. The man was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital by The Lindenhurst Fire Department and recovered.

Adapted from a nomination by Craig A. Santoli, Lindenhurst FD Chief

2021 Firefighter of the Year Sponsored by:


Past Award Recipients

1955 J. Robert Kramer Lewis Tompkins Hose Company #1
1956 Edward Dixon Great Neck Vigilants
1957 William M. Belinson Eggertsville Hose Company
1958 John Patrick Cronin III Tallman Fire Company #1
1959 Dominic C. Zappia Massena Fire Department
1960 Donald Brown West Carthage Fire Department
1961 James Gilliam Lewiston Fire Company #2
1962 Russell Fleischman Washington Engine Company #2
1963 James H. Jackson Andover Fire Department
1964 Donald H. Price Nyack Fire Department
1965 Stephen R. Bucki Harris Hill Fire Company
1966 Gary Elbert Flower Hill Hose Company #1
1967 Gordon O. Schmidt St. Paul Boulevard Fire Association
1968 Jake Parris Patchogue Fire Department
1969 Thomas Nameth Slater Chemical Fire Company
1970 Charles L. Ossont Westmoreland Fire Department
1971 Barry Simmons Rhinebeck Fire Department
1972 Hobart A. Abbey Forest View — Gang Mills Fire Deptartment
1973 Harry Charkow Mattituck Fire Department
1974 John A. Keogh Mattituck Fire Department
1975 John Richard Green Merrick Fire Department
1976 Willard John Hoyt South Schodak Fire Company
1977 Alton L. Lewis Montour Falls Fire Department
1978 George Cannella Islip Terrace Fire Department
1979 Randall R. Rhoades East Syracuse Fire Department
1980 George Jerry Dean Gates — Chili Fire Department
1981 David A. Sedlock Massena Fire Department
1982 David L. Curley Delhi Fire Department
1983 Richard W. Gehrt Smithtown Fire Department
1984 Frederic Furminger Depew Fire Department
1985 Thomas A. Phillips S. W.  Johnson Steam Fire Engine Company
1986 Michael F. Reid Merrick Hook & Ladder Company #1
1987 John L. Hyzer Bainbridge Fire Department
1988 Paul Edward Vinciguerra Lindenhurst Chemical & Salvage Company #2
1989 Robert A. Frank Central Islip Fire Department
1990 Robert Hitchcock Blenheim Fire Department
1991 Charles R. Zigrosser Bayport Fire Department
1992 George P. Motchkavitz Great Neck Alert Engine Company
1993 Robert Pettigrew North Babylon Fire Company
1994 Paul A. MacMurray Hudson Falls Fire Department
1995 Kenneth T. Jones Sayville Hook & Ladder Company #1
1995 William H. Pyne III Sayville Hook & Ladder Company #1
1996 David A. DiDio Bellport Fire Department
1997 Matthew F. Merecka Freeport Fire Department
1998 Larry J. Stumpo North Patchogue Fire Department
1999 James S. Fredericks Mohegan Volunteer Fire Association, Inc.
2000 Mark Sposato Brewerton Fire Department, Inc.
2001 Raymond Valles Ossining Steamer Company #1, Inc.
2001 Donald J. Farrell Cataract Hose Company #2
2001 John Simkins Ossining Fire Department
2001 William H. Brown III Ossining Fire Department
2002 Dedicated to those who died in the Line of Duty 9/11/01
2003 Brian Stevens Manlius Vol. Fire Company, Inc.
2004 John C. Glidden III Huntington Manor Fire Department
2004 Frederick Steenson Jr. Huntington Manor Fire Department
2004 Richard Prudente Huntington Manor Fire Department
2005 Joseph Cirincione Rush Fire Department
2005 Michael Terzo Rush Fire Department
2005 Peter Henry Rush Fire Department
2005 James Bucci Rush Fire Department
2006 Richard J. Gimbl Holbrook Fire Department
2007 Lieutenant Al Cinotti West Islip Fire Department
2008 Lieutenant Edward Kunz Bay Shore Fire Department
2008 Lieutenant John Ippolito Jr. Bay Shore Fire Department
2009 Assistant Chief Timothy R. Ellis North Syracuse Fire Department
2010 Kevin Oatman Verona Fire Department
2010 Aldo Cacciotti Verona Fire Department
2010 Jeff Hugunine Verona Fire Department
2011 Second Assistant Chief Brian J. Lena Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department
2011 Captain William J. “Billy” Bahr Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department
2012 Andrew Kolesar West Haverstraw Fire Department
2013 John Curley Bellmore Fire Department
2014 Thomas J. Gorman Bohemia Fire Department
2015 Frank Crispin Moyers Corners Fire Department
2015 Steve Zaferakis Moyers Corners Fire Department
2015 Phil Vogt Moyers Corners Fire Department
2015 Ryan Whitmore Moyers Corners Fire Department
2015 Jeremy Corsaro Moyers Corners Fire Department
2016 Frederick Kopf Baldwin Fire Department
2017 Timothy Duckham Smithtown Fire Department
2017 Thomas Kriklava Smithtown Fire Department
2017 Patrick Diecidue Smithtown Fire Department
2017 Jennifer O’Brien Smithtown Fire Department
2017 Joseph LaRocco Smithtown Fire Department
2017 John Hansen Smithtown Fire Department
2018 Peter DiPinto, Sr. Brookhaven Fire Department
2019 Jason Bernfeld Melville Fire Department
2020 Delphi Falls Fire Department, Manlius Fire Department, Cazenovia Fire Department, Pompey Hill Fire Department