Alex Vogel, a firefighter with Baldwin Independent Fire Company No. 1, is one of the six community heroes who were honored on Thursday at a 2012 American Red Cross Heroes Breakfast at Pittsburgh's CONSOL Energy Center.
Vogel received the Professional Responder Hero Award for Southwestern Pennsylvania during the event in CONSOL's Lexus Club. Five other heroes were honored at the fourth annual event, which also serves as a fundraiser for the American Red Cross.
From the time that Vogel was a child, he said that his family members knew that he would follow in his father's footsteps and become a volunteer firefighter. The Baldwin Borough resident became a firefighter at the age of 17 and has since become accustomed to the dangers that come with that service.
In March, Vogel and his fellow firefighters responded to a large house blaze in the 3000 block of Churchview Avenue in north Baldwin—just five lots away from the fire station. The team entered the burning structure, putting out the fire as they went.
When they reached the house's kitchen area, Vogel waited as one of his partners went for more tools. It was then that he heard fireman Bob Wysocki call out for help from just a few feet away. Wysocki had fallen through the floor.
Vogel said that he just reacted as his adrenaline kicked in. He said that he thought that he reached under Wysocki's shoulders and pulled him up but found out later that Wysocki had actually been through the floor to his shoulders.
"I have no idea of how I picked him up," Vogel said in an interview before Thursday's breakfast at CONSOL.
Another firefighter came over to the fallen man, and he and Vogel helped to escort Wysocki out of the burning building.
Vogel is humble about his effort that day. His mother was the one who alerted the Red Cross to her son's heroism.
"It wasn't all a single-person effort," he said. "I want to give these guys (fellow firemen) the credit."
WPXI sportscaster Bill Phillips served as the emcee for Thursday's program. The honorees were nominated by event committee members and selected by an independent panel of media personnel and community figures.
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