MORRISVILLE — As a teenager, Nathan Lozinsky knew he wanted to be a firefighter.
The defining moment came when he was 14. One day Lozinsky tagged along as his father – a homebuilder – boarded up windows at the scene of a fire in upstate New York.
“I saw these people crying on the side of the road and at the same time thanking the firefighters for doing what they could,” said Lozinsky, 36, of Holly Springs. “That snapshot, that image stayed with me.”
Lozinsky grew up, married, had two children and became a carpenter. But he never forgot his desire to become a firefighter. He joined the Morrisville Fire Department in 2007 and was recently named Morrisville Rotary Club’s Firefighter of the Year.
He manages one of the department’s most popular public programs: free child passenger seat inspections.
The fire department inspected more than 600 child safety seats last year.
Lozinsky, a fire engineer, organizes and teaches child safety seat technician classes, makes sure certifications are up to date and volunteers annually with the N.C. Office of State Fire Marshal to help at the N.C. State Fair Safe City display.
He coordinated with Buy Buy Baby to hold a car seat clinic in the store’s parking lot to promote correct installation of seats, said Fire Chief Todd Wright in his recommendation letter for the award. A plaque was presented June 11.
“As the fire chief, I believe this program is the single best service we offer,” Wright said. “We have trained CPS technicians on duty at all times who are ready to assist you with proper installation. No appointment is necessary.”
Wright described Lozinsky as an employee who epitomizes “service before self.”
This year he built a platform for the audio/visual equipment at the new fire station, where he does double-duty as the department’s communications officer. He works with the Raleigh Wake 911 Emergency Communications Center and the N.C Turnpike Authority on several projects, Wright said.
The Rotary Club award caught Lozinsky off guard.
“I asked the chief if he called the wrong number,” he joked. “We don’t have a lot of administrative staff, and so many people wear so many different hats I feel like you could give it to anyone here and they would deserve it. I’m especially humbled and grateful.”
Making things better
Lozinsky, whose children are 7 and 9, said his passion for the car seat inspection program comes from wanting to protect people who can’t protect themselves: babies and small children.
In his first two weeks on the job, he was called to a wreck on I-40. A mother and her child, who was in the rear seat, were involved in the accident. The child survived but had a few broken bones, Lozinsky said.
“I realized how important it was to teach parents how to make sure their kids are safe in their passenger seats,” he said. “The amount of force applied to a child in a car accident is immense.”
Being a firefighter for Lozinsky is all about helping people.
“You walk into people’s lives and by the time you walk out of it you’ve made things better or at least tried to,” he said.