JEANNETTE (KDKA) — Running into smoke-filled houses and burning buildings is just another day on the job for area firefighters, but the city of Jeannette, Westmoreland County, has had more than its share of risks and dangers lately.
There have been at least 24 fires labeled arson in the last four years, plus dozens of other calls where lives were on the line.
On Wednesday night, the town honored its emergency responders for battling the arsons and other destructive fires throughout the town.
Over a dozen men and women received medals and plaques, including two firefighters who received the Purple Heart.
Jim Swartz was severely injured in a blaze on Chestnut Street.
“My father always put forth the community effort, and that’s what you do,” Swartz told KDKA.
Firefighters who fought a huge fire at a funeral home were also honored for saving the remains of loved ones inside.
Firefighter Robert Scott said, “On a day-to-day basis, we put our lives on the line. You don’t do it thinking you’re going to get a medal or a plaque. You do it for the pride and dedication of the job.”
Fire Chief Joseph Matijevic presided over the ceremony at City Hall.
“At times, we have to put ourselves at extreme risk going into burning buildings to save our own firefighters, which three times last year we had to do,” the chief said. “[It] makes me very proud of the men I have in my department.”