Ambridge Fire Chief David Drewnowski plans to retire effective Feb. 3 following a 31-year career with the borough fire department.
Council and the mayor congratulated Drewnowski and presented him with a plaque and retired chief’s badge.
His wife, Councilwoman Stephanie Drewnowski, read an emotional speech of the chief's tenure from her perspective.
"I watched you jump out of bed in the middle of the night, miss countless dinners at home, at restaurants, on holidays and have to leave parties because there was a fire call," she said. "Tonight, as an elected official of the borough of Ambridge, and technically as one of your seven bosses, I couldn't be prouder of your accomplishments."
Drewnowski, a life-long Ambridge resident, began his career with the Ambridge Volunteer Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter in 1981. In 1983, he was hired by the borough as its electrician and in August 1985, he was hired full-time as a Firefighter and Driver.
When prior Chief Gagliardi retired in March of 1997, Ambridge Council promoted Drewnowski to the rank of fire chief, becoming the borough’s 10th fire chief in its 110-year history.
Council President Michael Mikulich, who voted for Drewnowski then, said the accomplishments in Chief Drewnowski’s tenure include the improvement of the Borough’s ISO rating to a Class 3 – an effort that improved the community’s fire insurance rating.
Other accomplishments Mikulich cited include the development of the Ambridge Area High School Junior Firefighter program, securing multiple grants for state-of-the-art firefighting and rescue equipment, and advancing the services and programs of the Ambridge Fire Department in a fiscally responsible and sustainable manner.
"I'm a little bit honored here today seeing this man's career start and I'm here again to see his career come to an honorable end," Mikulich said.
Drewnowski thanked the community for having him as a fire chief, calling it an honor. He particularly thanked the firefighters.
“They respected me, they listened to me, we trained together, we fought many fires. We had some bad times, but we had more good times. We saved a lot of lives, even though we lost some...what makes us go forward is the lives we did save in Ambridge and the amount of calls."
"I can't be more prouder of these guys. I always tell them they made me chief.”
Council hired full-time firefighter and code enforcement officer David Gorecki, who went through the class Drewnowski started and has been a volunteer firefighter in Ambridge since 2007. He begins Jan. 1.
The fire department is a combination department, composed of both a career staff employed by the borough and a Volunteer Fire Department operating as one department.
Career firefighters include the fire chief, assistant Fire Chief and a full and part-time driver. A successor to replace the chief will be announced early next year.
Volunteers provide various roles within the organization including fire suppression, support, fire police and administrative duties. Equipment of the Ambridge Fire Department include a 100’ aerial ladder truck, 55’ snorkel unit, two heavy attack pumpers, a rescue boat, decontamination unit, and two squad units.