Tamaqua man to head state advocacy group
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Don Konkle, left, PFESI executive Director and former chief of the Harrisburg Fire Department congratulates Frank Zagari, center, and Brian Connely, as the two accept leadership roles with the Commonwealth's emergency services advocacy group.
A Tamaqua man is one of two residents from the region elected to guide the state's emergency services advocacy group.
Brian Connely, past president, American Hose Company, has been named president of the Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute (PFESI), Harrisburg.
The group is a nonprofit organization that works with lawmakers in writing and adopting emergency service legislation and acts as advocate for emergency services statewide, both career and volunteer.
In addition, Frank Zagari, Girardville, has been named the organization's Statewide Advisory Board chairman.
"It's an honor to be able to help lead an organization of this type," says Connely. "I have always had a strong emergency service background and I am proud to be able to help this organization and all of our emergency responders across the state. This organization does so much for emergency services. Emergency providers do not realize that most of the legislation being enacted usually starts with this organization. And it is this organization that is standing up and fighting for the emergency services in the Commonwealth, regardless of being a volunteer or a career responder."
The PFESI also brings together numerous fire and EMS organizations from across the Commonwealth. The organization became the catalyst for similar initiatives across the country.
The PFESI speaks at hearings supporting responder-related legislation and works to bring together organizations like the EMS councils, the Professional Fireman's Association, state Firemans Association, the Firemans Legislative Federation, and others.
Connely has been employed at KME, Nesquehoning, for 13 years, and is the National Customer Relations manager working with fire departments across the country.
That professional capacity has allowed him to assist emergency response efforts to best advantage.
"The Kovatch organization is a strong supporter of the Institute. Without them, the organization would not be able to function in the capacity it does," he explained. "I am thankful for their support and am honored to represent them on the board as well."
Connely says he will use the new opportunity to bolster emergency services and take advantage of networking opportunities.
"One of the nice things about being involved with this organization is that you get to meet so many people from across the state that have similar issues and to work with those same people to come to a resolution of those issues. There is just so much valuable information out there that we can learn and bring back to our communities and hopefully share with them some of our experiences as well," he said.
Connely served as captain and president at Tamaqua's AHC and is past president of the Schuylkill County Firefighters Association. In addition, he is past president of Tamaqua Community Ambulance Association; past board chairman and former EMT of the Tamaqua Community Ambulance Association and is currently nationally certified as Fire Officer II.
He currently serves as vice president, Tamaqua Borough Council and chairman of council's public safety committee. Connely also serves as chairman of both the Tamaqua Area Water Authority and the Tamaqua Borough Authority, and past president, West Penn Township Lions Club. He also is a board member of Tamaqua Industrial Development Enterprises and Schuylkill United Way.
Zangari has 40 years in the fire service. He is currently chief of Rangers Hose Company, Girardville, and president of the Schuylkill County Fire Chiefs Association, past resident of the Schuylkill County Volunteer Firemans Association, and has held numerous leadership positions within fire service.
"I accepted the Advisory Board Chairmanship to make the group stronger and bring more input from the northeastern part of our Commonwealth," said Zangari. He says he will draw on his forty years of experience to help make a difference at the state level.
The PFESI, headquartered on State Street, has two full time employees and an executive board to guide the operation.
The State Wide Advisory Board encompasses organizations from across the state. That advisory board meets and then gives recommendations to the PFESI board on issues that involve their respective emergency service organizations.
"I am fortunate to have Frank taking the lead with me to further the emergency services agenda across the state," Connely said. "We will be working very closely to ensure that our emergency services issues are heard and addressed in Harrisburg."