Firefighters, community honor former fire Chief Samuel Revella
By Samantha Phillips
Former Fire Chief Samuel Revella was an inspiration to many firefighters, especially his grandson, firefighter Jim Petruzzi.
“He was my mentor, my idol, my hero,” Petruzzi said. “He was definitely my best friend.”
On Wednesday, family, friends and community members honored Revella, who died Saturday at age 90, with a funeral procession and memorial services.
The Girard Fire Department used its ladder truck to fly a flag over the procession, which included representation from the Girard, Liberty and McDonald fire departments and Girard and Youngstown police departments.
Revella started as a firefighter in 1959 and was chief between 1973 and 1990.
He made lasting impacts on the department, including increased staffing levels, improving firefighter and emergency medical technician training and spearheading the acquisition of a new vehicle and equipment.
Revella also battled some of the largest fires in the city’s history, including a 1963 fire that threatened the entire downtown business district, said firefighter Brian Pearson.
In 1981, Revella received an Ohio Fire Service Valor Award for being the first responder when a plane crashed into the Eastwood Mall. He was off duty at the time.
When people talk about Revella, they say he was genuinely kind and humble, a loving family man and a dedicated fire chief who cared for his firefighters.
They also say his passion for the fire department was lifelong.
Fire Chief Ken Bornemiss, who has been a neighbor with Revella and his family for almost 20 years, said Revella was a great mentor.
In 2004, Revella played a key role in passing the fire levy, even though he had been retired for years, Bornemiss said.
“He never lost his love for the department,” he said, and wanted the department to continue to do well.
Fire Capt. Timothy O’Brien said, “He was a rare individual that you instantly trusted and respected. He had such a positive impact on my life and career. He left the world a better place.”
Fire Capt. Timothy Britt also worked under Revella and recalled his former boss not being afraid to be the man at the end of the hose and always lending a helping hand.
Petruzzi called the clips of Revella singing during the memorial service a gift, because his family can always hear his voice.
Britt remembered Revella singing at Christmas parties for the firefighters and their families, with a voice so beautiful it would bring people to tears.
Petruzzi said his grandfather loved the community, and the support his family has been shown by that community means a lot to them.