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August 12, 2013

Why two Hope firefighters were lauded at a local convention

— Dave Hassen and Peter Barczak are not looking for praise.

They got it anyway.

Firefighters for the Hope Fire Company of Northern Cambria, Hassen, 60, and Barczak, 63, received valor awards for rescueing two senior citizens from their Northern Cambria home after the husband and wife were overcome by carbon monoxide.

The men were honored at the 92nd annual convention of the Volunteer Firemen’s Association of Cambria County & Vicinity held last month in St. Michael.

“It’s a prestigious award,” St. Michael fire Chief Paul Kundrod said. “Their fellow firefighters are recognizing them for there heroic actions.”

The rescue took place in October when the husband and wife returned to their home.

They had left the car idling in the garage beneath the first floor of the home. The woman went downstairs and found her husband unconscious near the car.

“She heard a noise and sent her husband downstairs, but when he never returned she started down the stairs and saw him laying there,” said Barczak. “She hurried up and called 911.”

Hassen was on duty for the borough police department when he responded.

“I went right to the residence and there was two people inside,” he said. “The man was laying near the car. She was laying halfway down the steps, semiconscious.”

Barczak carried the man outside to waiting paramedics while Hassen helped the woman.

Firefighters armed with carbon monoxide meters registered the gas at a potentially deadly level of 500 parts per million. That was the highest level on the meter, Barczak said.

“I was probably in there three to five minutes,” Barczak said.

The couple later recovered.

For Barczak, a first assistant chief and 46-year member of the fire department, the honor was welcome.

“When you get to be my age and you start to wind down your career, its a hell-of-a nice thing to have,” he said. “You do what you’ve got to do because you’re a fireman.”

 It was the second award for Hassen, a firefighter since 1968.

He helped rescue a mother and two children from a burning home “quite a few years ago.”

The recognition is welcome, but not needed, the men said.

“That’s not why we do it,” Hassen said. “We do it to help the community.”

Patrick Buchnowski is police reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/PatBuchnowskiTD.

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