John C. Poko is Summit Hill's 'Firefighter of the Year' for 2013
RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS John C. Poko, center, receives the "Firefighter of the Year" award for the Summit Hill Fire Department from Fire Chief, Shawn Hoben. At left is Kevin Matzen, the financial officer of the fire company, was was given the "Volunteer of the Year" award.
John C. Poko, a 22-year-member of the Diligence Fire Company in Summit Hill, was named the fire department's "Firefighter of the Year" for 2013.
Poke received the Paul Yuricheck Fireman of the Year award during the department's annual Christmas party, held at the Summit Hill Community Center. About 75 people attended the event.
Fire Chief Shawn Hoben presented the award.
"I'm speechless," said the surprised award recipient during the presentation.
Hoben said Poko received the award because of his dedication to training. He has become certified as a state instructor and has become active in leading training activities in the fire department.
"Last year or two years ago, I was asked to move forward on training," Poko said. "There are a lot of guys who stepped up to this. A lot of guys put in a lot of training."
Poko, a fire company captain, becomes the first member of the department to win the "Firefighter of the Year" award twice. Several years ago, his peers also selected him as the award recipient.
Hoben said, "Every year it's a hard decision to make."
He said it is presented to "someone who has put in 110 percent or more" to the fire department.
Hoben added that Poko has "become a training officer and taken training to another level."
Kevin Matzen, the fire company's financial officer, was named "Volunteer of the Year" because of his dedication and many hours devoted to the department.
Auxiliary members who were most active in fire department activities received shirts. They are Angela Giglotti, Nancy Henninger, Judy Hoben, Jessica Matzen, Carol Ockenhouse, and Kathy Yuricheck.
Volunteer firefighters who contributed the most hours to the department also received shirts. Hours includedtraining, fundraising, incident responses, and general activities.
Recipients were Chief Hoben, Bobby O'Gurek, Brandon Miller, John C. Poko, Ed Nunemacher, Kevin Steber, Dave Sommers, Ron Yuricheck, Len Ogozalek, Peter Matyascik, and Larry Black.
Ogozalek, an assistant chief, announced a new program started at the fire company. Line officers were given special coins.
During the year, if someone does something above the ordinary, they will pass that coin onto that person.
He said regarding the coin program, "Tonight I hope we start a new tradition."
Ronald Yuricheck, also an assistant chief, handed out elastic wrist bands to firefighters. The wrist bands serve as reminders that their priority is to return home safely from emergency responses.