explanations, they kept him from opening the refrigerator doors because
inside was the double-layer white cake with whipped cream frosting
announcing Mencuri's award.
"I was a little suspicious," Mencuri said.
No one else seemed surprised, though.
He was nominated for the annual award by eight people -- a department
record -- said Mencuri's Battalion Chief, Mario Gagnon, who was also a
member of the award committee.
"He definitely deserves it," Gagnon said.
Mencuri's worthiness encompasses several incidents, which Fire Chief
Mike Davis outlined at Tuesday's meeting. Among his most recent
achievements was his instrumental role in establishing the department's
museum, which is shared with police, and rallying his co-workers'
participation with other departments to aid burn victims.
"I couldn't have been Firefighter of the Year without all these
people," Mencuri said, gesturing toward his co-workers. "We all are
firefighters of the year, we all do the same thing."
Mencuri said he joined the Burbank department because of its
requirement that firefighters also be trained as paramedics. He wanted to
do both jobs. Many departments don't have paramedics or the paramedics
respond to only medical calls.
He also wanted to stay close to home.
"I grew up here, so I knew the streets better," said Mencuri, whose
son wants to become a firefighter.
Mencuri spent eight months gathering items for the museum and came up
with the idea of placing a retired engine inside. He devised a way to cut
the engine in half lengthwise and make it possible for children to climb
into the cab.
But he is most proud of a small memorial for the department's only
firefighter killed on duty.
The department had little information about John Saltisik, the
firefighter killed in 1961 when his truck was broadsided in an
intersection and he was thrown out. At that time, engines did not have
seat belts, Mencuri said.
Mencuri was able to track down Saltisik's family and invited them to
the museum's opening.
"They thought everybody forgot about John," Mencuri said.
As Firefighter of the Year, Mencuri will represent the department at
THE MENCURI FILE
Name: Terry Mencuri.
Lives: In Valencia, but grew up in Burbank.
Family: Wife, Pam; son, Cameron; two golden retrievers; he is the
youngest of five children.
Service: He has spent his career with the Burbank Fire Department,
almost 20 years.
Busiest Day: A few years ago, Mencuri, along with other firefighters,
responded to a small airplane crash, a brush fire and rescued a man who
was wedged between two elevators, in a studio shaft.
Quote: "The best part is when you're down there giving a tour, and
a...little kid looks up at you...and says 'I want to be a firefighter,