AFD Receives A New Chief: Kudlak Retires, Laubach Promoted


Chief LaubachMayor Ed Pawlowski recently announced that Fire Chief Bob Kudlak has decided to retire, and Deputy Chief of Operations Lee T. Laubach Jr. is being promoted to interim Fire Chief.

Kudlak will retire on February 2nd, and has served as interim Chief since January, 2014.

“In his six years at or near the top of this department as Deputy Chief of Operations and then as interim chief, Bob was an effective leader,” said Pawlowski. “He earned the respect of the men who fought alongside him and those who served under his command. The department will miss his direction.”

Kudlak joined the department in 1986. Throughout his career, he has received multiple promotions, and his success has been recognized by the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, U.S Congress, and the U.S Senate.

“It has been my honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Allentown for 28½ years as a firefighter and ultimately the department’s chief officer,” Kudlak said. “I thank Mayor Pawlowski for the opportunity to serve in an administrative capacity over the final quarter of my tenure. The men of this department are some of the most dedicated in the business and I wish them all a rewarding and safe career.”

“I have always been impressed by the dedication Chief Kudlak brought to the table in the daily fulfillment of his duties,” said Pawlowski. “He was the recipient of many awards and citations. They are extensive evidence of the commitment he made to the job.”

Kudlak became a second-generation fire fighter when he chose to follow in his father’s footsteps, after Robert Sr. retired in 1996 after serving the city of Allentown for 27 years.

Pawlowski also announced that Deputy Chief of Operations and Emergency Management Coordinator Lee T. Laubach Jr. would be promoted to Interim Chief. For the past year, Laubach has served as Deputy Chief, and is a 21-year veteran of the department.

Pawlowski said, “Lee has done an outstanding job as the Deputy Chief and as the city’s Emergency Management Coordinator. I know he will make an outstanding chief. He has the confidence of the administration, the fire department and the community.”

Laubach joined the department in 1993, receiving multiple promotions and achievements throughout his career with the department. He was promoted to Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention in September 2010, in addition to being named Fire Fighter of the year for the department that same year.





ScottAirPak“We are very pleased that our grant application has been approved,” said Mayor Ed Pawlowski, in reference to the $365,000 Assistance to Firefighters Grant awarded to The City of Allentown for new self-contained breathing apparatuses.  “Nothing is more important than public safety. Since 2006, we have made tremendous strides in improving our firefighting capability and enhancing the safety of our firefighters,” he added.

The funding for the new breathing apparatuses (Scott Air Paks) comes from the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Out of the 43 Assistance to Firefighters grants awarded by FEMA, Allentown was given the highest allocation.

The air paks are assigned to city fire engines, with each firefighter receiving their own mask. Interim Allentown Fire Chief Bob Kudlak stated, “We are buying 74 of these units. They will be replacing our current 10-year-old equipment. The existing units were compliant with the standards established at that time; since then the standards have been amended in 2008 and 2013. The new units will comply with the standards currently in place. We hope to have these new units in our possession and in service this summer.”

The city has purchased five new fire-fighting vehicles since 2009, including two new engines, one rescue pumper and two 100-foot aerials. Grant funding was secured to install new ventilation systems in every fire station, and the city has purchased the best gear on the market for full body protection; helmets, boots and gloves. In addition, the completely rebuilt East Side Fire Station opened in February.

Interim Chief Kudlak expressed his appreciation for the award, saying, “The Allentown Fire Department is grateful to receive this Assistance to Firefighters Grant. These funds will play an essential role in ensuring that the department is able to purchase upgraded Self-Contained Breathing Apparatuses, which provide breathable air to firefighters while they work to contain a blaze. We thank Senator Pat Toomey for his support of the Allentown Fire Department and for his assistance during the AFG process.”



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.”