May 26 • 06:31 AM

Firefighter of Year a hero among heroes

ICFD chooses Capt. Andrew Kustowski

December 22, 2010
IMLAY CITY — In a department filled with extraordinary people, it can sometimes be difficult to single someone out for special honors.

But that's just what the Imlay City Fire Department does year after year when they present the 'ICFD Firefighter of the Year' award.

This year's recipient, chosen by fellow firefighters on the team, is Andrew Kustowski. This year's award marks the third time Kustowski has received the honor.

Imlay City Fire Capt. Andrew Kustowski shows his gratitude with a big smile as he is presented with the ICFD Firefighter of the Year award.

A captain, Kustowski has been with the department since 2005. Fire Chief Kip Reaves says when the captain's position became available in 2009, Kustowski stepped up to fill the void.

"Andrew stepped up, stepped in and did a good job in a new position to him," Reaves says in a press release.

Over the past year, Kustowski has been involved in every facet of the department, Reaves says, from fighting fires to participating in fire prevention activities in the community and making sure the department has the equipment that it needs.

"This past year, Andrew spent a lot of unpaid time working at the fire station," Reaves says. "Andrew served on our truck committee and was a big part of getting our new tanker truck from specifications on paper to sitting in our fire station, in service and ready to go."

Noting the huge blaze that took out a manufacturing facility at Champion Bus, Reaves says 2010 was an exceptionally busy year for Imlay City firefighters with more than $13 million in damages chalked up to fires.

Kustowski played a key role in the Champion fire, Reaves says, by being the first to recognize what was going on.

"Andrew was on his way home and was the first to recognize (it) for what it was, a large industrial fire," Reaves says. "Andrew called the fire in to the 911 center and responded with the department to fight the fire."

Assigned to the incident command staff at the site, Reaves says Kustowski did his job well.

Because of his exemplary service and dedication to the department, Kustowski was again chosen for recognition.

"We feel that peer recognition is very important and being chosen by the firefighters in this department has a ton of meaning to the award winners," Reaves says.

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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