OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Bob Kudlak took the oath of office recently as interim fire chief in the City of Allentown during a ceremony in City Council Chambers. “I have always been impressed by the passion and commitment Chief Kudlak has shown in the daily fulfillment of his duties,” said Mayor Pawlowski. “He is the recipient of many awards and citations. They are ample evidence of the time and energy he pours into his job.”

Kudlak has had an impressive journey from his beginnings in the Allentown Fire Department to his current position. A second-generation firefighter for the City of Allentown, Kudlak joined the department in 1986, and in 2005 was promoted to the position of Fire Marshal. In 2007 he became Captain of Public Affairs, and the following year was promoted to Captain of Fire Marshals.

Later that same year, he was promoted to Deputy Chief of Operations, which placed him as the second in command of the department. Among other duties, the Deputy Chief of Operations supervises and evaluates assistant chiefs, battalion chiefs, captains, lieutenants, fire marshals and firefighters assigned to the division as well as being responsible for all personnel and apparatus assigned to the department.

In addition to his promotions within the department, Kudlak has received various Departmental Awards and numerous Unit Citations. The Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, U.S. Congress, and the U.S. Senate have recognized him for his accomplishments. The 27-year veteran of the department has also worked with the Lehigh Valley Hospital Burn Prevention Foundation, and is certified in the Juvenile Fire Setter Prevention Education program for the city.

Kudlak is certified as a Fire Investigator through the National Association of Fire Investigators and is a member of the International Association of Arson Investigators. He is a certified expert witness in the field of arson and fire investigation, and is licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a Fire Inspector and Codes Administrator. He has attained additional certifications in Hazardous Materials awareness, water rescue and is an Electronic Search Specialist through Project Lifesaver out of Chesapeake, Va. Kudlak holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Muhlenberg College.

“This is a great department and I am proud to be its leader,” Kudlak stated. “I am grateful to Mayor Pawlowski for giving the opportunity to direct the department and serve the citizens of the city is this capacity.”

Pawlowski also announced that Assistant Chief Lee T. Laubach Jr. is being promoted to Deputy Chief of Operations. Laubach is a 20-year veteran of the department. He was promoted to Fire Specialist in August of 2002, elevated to Lieutenant in April 2006, and promoted to Fire Marshal in June of 2008. He became Captain of Public Affairs in October 2009, and was promoted to Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention in September 2010. Laubach was also sworn-in during the ceremony.

Pawlowski announced that Deputy Chief Laubach will also serve as the city’s Emergency Management Coordinator and will lead the city’s new emergency management team. He will be joined by Allentown Police Captain William Reinik, Allentown Health Bureau Director Vicky Kistler, Communications Superintendent Mike Hilbert, Interim Public Works Director Craig Messinger and EMS Operations Manager Bryan Fritz.

“Each of these bureaus is critical to responding to emergency situations in the city,” said Pawlowski. “We felt that in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy we could make improvements in our delivery of services. These are some of the people who are on the front lines and with the official creation of the team it is our hope to be able to better coordinate our attack.”