HOMER CITY – That’s what firefighters do.
He hastily dresses up for a midnight alarm, rushes to the fire station, drives a fully equipped truck, and battles against a fire, flood, or whatever disaster has happened.
This is also what firefighters do.
Give up answering the pager, rush across the street to the burning house, and help a stranded couple and their kids get shelter from the porch roof. And then picking up shoes from his own house to help the family endure the winter frost.
That’s what earned praise on Tuesday for Homer City firefighter Scott Johnston, who coyly accepted a fire ax and etched blade shield as a gesture of gratitude from the borough council.
Councilman Joe Iezzi Sr., deputy fire chief, said Johnston came to the aid of Matt Blystone, Tonya Gibbons and their children at 4 a.m. on February 6 when flames engulfed the family’s home in the streets Beech and Center.
“You saved four people’s lives,” Iezzi told Johnston. “It’s thanks to your training as a firefighter in Homer City. You did what was expected of you. We just want to show our appreciation and show what this board thinks of you.
Johnston, with more than 40 years of service with the company and a life member of the department, was asked to raise the ax and shield in the social hall of the fire station for others to admire.
“In Homer City, we’re honored to have 12 life members ages 62 and older who are still very active,” said Fire Chief Joe Iezzi Jr. “These guys are here day and night, and I don’t I really don’t know of any other county department that has that luxury. We’re so lucky to have you guys.
“That night was no different than any other night. You knew exactly what you had to do.
“I just do the work. Making the right call at the right time,” was all Johnstown offered as Borough Manager Rob Nymick presented him with the axe.
The family’s home was destroyed, but countless townspeople and other supporters came to the aid of Blystone, Gibbons and their children with thousands of dollars in donations through GoFundMe’s crowdfunding effort.