NFFF honors Neb. FF with National Firefighter Hero Award
Omaha Firefighter Drew Gerken was recognized for stepping up to help families recover after devastating fires
By Laura French
OMAHA, Neb. — The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and Maglite awarded a Nebraska firefighter with the National Firefighter Hero Award at a ceremony on Thursday.
Omaha Fire Department Firefighter Drew Gerken was recognized for his ongoing efforts to help families in need after they experience a devastating fire. Gerken helps to replace furnishings and other possessions destroyed in fires and organizes teams of volunteers to pick up and deliver donated furniture to the families in need, according to an NFFF press release.
"Drew is a firefighter in Omaha who goes far beyond the call of duty. After seeing the devastation that fires cause and the negative impact they have on families, Drew decided to do something about it. Often, fires strike those who are least prepared to rebound from them. Families are left with nothing and rely on the goodwill of others to get back on their feet," said Omaha Battalion Chief Jason Bradley, in a statement. "Knowing this, Drew began asking for donations of used furniture that could be given to those in need of a helping hand ... Over the years, this operation has grown, and Drew has helped numerous people in the Omaha area in need of assistance, making the community a better place."
Gerken's "Furniture Project" has helped hundreds of families and thousands of people over the years, officials said.
"It's always a good day when we can take the time to acknowledge the great work being done by firefighters and fire departments around the country," said Chief Ronald Siarnicki, executive director of the NFFF, in a statement.
"Heroes come in many forms and we are very happy to honor the efforts of this firefighter in Omaha who has done so much to help victims of fires get their lives back to as normal as possible as quickly as possible," Mag Instrument Inc. Founder and CEO Anthony Maglica said in a statement, adding that a donation will be made to the NFFF in Gerken's name, which will be permanently displayed on a brick at the National Fallen Firefighters Walk of Honor.