News

Home

Posted on: August 8, 2022

'Working together as a community': Mayor honors heroic resident, firefighters

FranekFire1By Kevin Hogencamp, City of Atlantic Beach Deputy City Manager

Greg Franek was distraught, with plenty of justification.

A kidney-transplant-hopeful for more than two years, Franek is undergoing dialysis treatment.

And – as with others – the current economy is taking its toll on him. 

Then, overnight, Franek and his neighbors lost their homes in a fire that destroyed a multi-unit apartment complex.

The longtime Atlantic Beach resident was left only with the pair of pants he was wearing when he ran out of his burning apartment and woke his neighbors, likely saving their lives.

Days after the June 7 Beach Avenue fire, in spite of being hailed as a hero by firefighters and his neighbors, Franek was reeling.

“It was one thing after another,” he said. 

Then, Franek received a your-glass-is-half-full admonishment from his physician.

“He said, ‘You know what? God didn’t take you in the fire. He didn’t take (neighbor) Henry (Bishop). You’re going to get a kidney. You’re going to have a good life. Look at it that way.”

And the Atlantic Beach community rallied, raising money and Franek’s hopes for the future.

Now, Franek says, gratitude prevails.

Atlantic Beach Mayor Ellen Glasser is plenty thankful, too: None of the handful of impacted Beach Avenue residents lost their lives in the two-alarm blaze, the most substantial fire in the community in recent memory. However, one resident’s pet cat remains missing after the fire, and Bishop – owner of ABBQ restaurant – has health issues that may have been aggravated by smoke inhalation.

Glasser and Bishop said the catastrophe’s silver linings are palpable: Franek’s quick-thinking and actions, along with the exceptional response by the Jacksonville Fire & Rescue Department (JFRD), saved lives and nearby property.

FranekFire2“The only reason I am here today is Greg,” Bishop said.

Indeed, Franek’s heroics earned him a symbolic key to the City from Glasser at an informal ceremony at City Hall honoring Franek and JFRD responders.

“Without regard for your personal safety, you banged on doors, made phone calls, ran between units, and even tossed a brick into a unit, all in an effort to awaken your neighbors and make sure they got out safely,” Glasser told Franek, reading from a letter of appreciation she wrote to him. “Within moments of accomplishing your mission, the building was engulfed in flames. Absent your singular actions, one or more people would have lost their lives, succumbing to smoke inhalation or fire.”

Franek says he simply did what anyone else would have done in the same situation.

“I appreciate your humility, but I respectfully disagree,” Glasser told him. “As individuals, one never knows how he or she will react in a crisis, but we do know how you did react.  For your brave actions, we present you with this symbolic key.   We consider you to be the ultimate ‘first responder’ and a local hero.”

Glasser said the other heroes that early morning were the firefighting team members who train for such moments; as a token of her appreciation, she treated them to an ABBQ meal following the City Hall ceremony.

“It is experiences like this that remind us we are fortunate to live in a community where we can count on our neighbors, and our first responders in our hours of greatest need … ” she said. 

Glasser says it’s critically important for first-responders to know that their dedication, skill and sacrifice aren’t taken for granted.

“This fire pretty much shook our community. Maybe it wasn’t a five-alarm, but it had the potential to cause great damage both to property and lives,” she said. “This really is about working together as a community … it’s so emotional for a lot of people.”

JFRD officials said that windy weather could have wreaked havoc on the firefighting efforts, and that the department already was having a busy night when the Beach Avenue fire occurred. Logistics had to be impeccable given the apartments’ location on a one-way street in a dense multi-family neighborhood with older beachfront, wood dwellings nearby.

JFRD personnel from Engine 55, B Shift, in Atlantic Beach responded and immediately deployed extra resources; the team contained the fire in about two hours. 

“We are blessed to have the best people in the world that work for JFRD …” said JFRD Chief Keith Powers. “They are the ones who put their lives on the line every day to keep everybody in the community safe.”

FranekFire3

(Photo credit: Unknown contributor to Action News Jax)

Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in Home

Nov. 8 General Election info

Posted on: September 21, 2022

Adopt-a-Tree, why don't ya

Posted on: September 19, 2022

Please join the AB Cares team, if you can

Posted on: September 8, 2022

King tides in AB during fall 2022

Posted on: September 7, 2022

Police body camera survey

Posted on: August 30, 2022

Crime prevention tips

Posted on: August 26, 2022

City adopts mission, values statements

Posted on: August 24, 2022

Make sure your signs meet code

Posted on: August 24, 2022

Mosquitoes buggin’ ya? We feel ya.

Posted on: August 3, 2022

City budget process under way

Posted on: July 24, 2022

Aug. 2 is National Night Out

Posted on: June 29, 2022

Donner Road construction underway

Posted on: July 15, 2022

Twilight Movies in the Park schedule

Posted on: July 28, 2022

Senior Tai Chi classes

Posted on: July 28, 2022

Election information

Posted on: July 25, 2022

Sculptures of Atlantic Beach

Posted on: June 30, 2022

Beaches Community Resources Guide

Posted on: June 2, 2022

Welcome, Dutch sailors

Posted on: May 3, 2022

Beaches WellFest set for May 7

Posted on: April 15, 2022

Lower Speed Limit = Safer Community

Posted on: April 7, 2022

Earth Day Art Show April 22

Posted on: April 1, 2022

Welcome, British Royal Navy sailors

Posted on: March 24, 2022

Volunteer Opportunities

Posted on: March 15, 2022

City of AB honors 'Dutton Island 5'

Posted on: February 15, 2022

Town Hall meeting this Saturday

Posted on: January 20, 2022

Join us for Arbor Day activities Jan. 21

Posted on: January 16, 2022

Beaches COVID-19 Testing Site Update

Posted on: January 14, 2022

2022 Wild Wonders Schedule

Posted on: January 14, 2022

2022 Songwriters Concert Schedule

Posted on: August 24, 2022

Complete Streets Project: Main Street

Posted on: December 10, 2021

Complete Streets: A Primer

Posted on: December 10, 2021

COAB Tree Giveaway Program

Posted on: December 6, 2021

16th Street beach walkover project update

Posted on: November 13, 2021

King tides in AB during fall 2021

Posted on: September 9, 2021

King tides in AB during fall 2021

Posted on: September 9, 2021

City of Atlantic Beach COVID-19 Update

Posted on: August 17, 2021

AB Jazz Fest postponed

Posted on: July 29, 2021

Saluting AB’s Small Businesses

Posted on: July 23, 2021

Trees in AB: Call before you cut

Posted on: July 19, 2021

Bridgeport barge update

Posted on: July 15, 2021

About palm tree pruning

Posted on: May 27, 2021

Stay in the Know, AB

Posted on: March 6, 2021

City of AB Connectivity Plan

Posted on: May 5, 2021

Public Parking Workshop May 6

Posted on: April 29, 2021

City of AB helping 'LEED' the way.

Posted on: April 28, 2021

City Commission Priorities

Posted on: April 27, 2021

USS Stark ceremony to be held May 17

Posted on: April 23, 2021

About traffic signals …

Posted on: February 14, 2021

City Hall Closed Presidents’ Day

Posted on: February 12, 2021

COVID-19 Update

Posted on: January 28, 2021

MLK Celebration to be held online

Posted on: January 14, 2021

Latest COVID-19 testing information

Posted on: January 14, 2021

Please don't feed geese and other wildlife

Posted on: December 24, 2020

Put AB Under Your Tree

Posted on: December 2, 2020

Duval County election results

Posted on: November 4, 2020

Howell Park enhancements under way

Posted on: September 30, 2020

Get the SaferWatch app

Posted on: September 22, 2020

18th Street Enhancement Project update

Posted on: August 17, 2020

Isaias Update

Posted on: August 1, 2020

Are you storm-ready?

Posted on: July 30, 2020

Stay safe at the beach

Posted on: July 9, 2020

Promoting Racial Equity

Posted on: June 19, 2020

Juneteenth Freedom Day

Posted on: June 19, 2020

Sign regulations update

Posted on: May 7, 2020

Coronavirus information

Posted on: March 4, 2020

JEA trimming trees in Atlantic Beach

Posted on: January 21, 2020