Captain John Christopher Unz was awarded this year's prestigious Boynton Award for outstanding efforts in fire prevention education for youth.
The award is named after Chief Henry "Hank" Boynton who was a firefighter with the Syracuse Fire Department from 1964 until his death in 1994. Boynton was dedicated to keeping the community a sager place through fire prevention education for youth.
Unz has worked with the Fairmount Fire Department for 17 years. He is a retired Syracuse Police Officer and a part-time Camillus Police Officer who provides fire prevention education on such topics as stop, drop and roll, not playing with matches and exit drills in the home. He has worked throughout the West Genesee School district (in Camillus), the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Brownies and many other youth and neighborhood groups.
"I go to nursery and grammar schools and talk about fire safety," Unz said. "We help the kids dress our fire fighters so they're not afraid of them. They can look intimidating to children with all of that fire gear on. In fact, I just spoke to 108 kids [Wednesday]."
Steven Tiss of the Onondaga County Department of Emergency Management Fire Investigation Unit was also given the Boynton Award for 2007 for his work with fire prevention among youth. Pirro and Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll presented the awards last Thursday in the John H. Mulroy Civic Center.
"I picked up a lot from [fellow firefighter] Gary May," said Boynton. "He has done a lot as far as fire prevention with kids."
The Boynton Award is presented annually by Onondaga County Executive Nick Pirro and the Onondaga County Department of Aging and Youth's Project Concern. It is awarded to an individual or an organization that exemplifies Chief Boynton's commitment, leadership, initiative and dedication to reducing the incidence of juvenile fire setting through fire prevention education for youth.
"Henry was a great guy," Unz said. "I knew him and worked with him, so this is a tremendous honor.