DANBURY, Conn. — Firefighter Michael Vitolo was recognized by the Danbury Exchange Club as the Firefighter of the Year 2017 at a ceremony at Anthony's Lake Club on Thursday, Oct. 5.
Vitolo's name is being added to the list of 19 others who have been honored with this award in past years.
Vitolo is a 10-year veteran of the Danbury Fire Department after graduating the Connecticut Fire Academy in 2007. He began his career in the fire service as a volunteer in the Hawthorne Volunteer Fire Department where he served for seven years. He is a graduate from Pace University with a degree in Accounting and a minor in Photography. He is also currently enrolled in the Fire Science Program at the Naugatuck Valley Community College.
Fire officials said that Vitolo was nominated for this award because sometimes the people who do their best to stay out of the spotlight deserve to be put into by being recognized for their dedication, work ethic, knowledge and compassion. Vitolo is a firefighter that rarely needs supervision and can handle any issue thrown at him. He knows his job and performs it well. He takes that time to be an active listener and always does his best to show compassion to those he serves.
“Every fire house has formal leaders; every fire house also has informal leaders," said Lieutenant Nicholas Cabral. "The informal leader is the guy or girl that does their job, does it well and is respected by their co-workers. The informal leader never complains and silently leads peers in everyday actions. For D Shift in the Danbury Fire Department, one of our most revered informal leaders is Firefighter Mike Vitolo.”
At a recent incident, Vitolo’s skills were instrumental in the recent call of a patient falling off a roof and being impaled by a large piece of steel. His skills on the saw, which he says were instilled in him by his late grandfather a New York City firefighter, led to the safe removal of the patient and rapid transfer to the hospital.
Another incident cited was the recent search for the lost mountain biker in Ferrington Park. Being an outdoorsman, Vitolo’s knowledge of trail systems and woodland navigation help lead the rescue crews to the patient.
Vitolo is just as active off duty, assisting in any way he can around the fire house or simply lending a hand to one of his co-workers. He recently took an active role in the remodel of the fire station kitchen at Engine 26 and teaches an annual fire safety class to autistic children in a Bronx school where his wife Kerri works as a teacher.
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