Firefighter of the Year Award Recipients List (2004)
|Fitchburg Fire Department|
Lt. Philip D. Jordan Jr.
As head of the Fitchburg Fire Department's S.A.F.E. program, Lieutenant Jordan has created an adaptation of a Dr. Seuss book, re-titled "Red Eggs and Spam," which has been an effective tool for the program and also is used during Fire Prevention and National Reading weeks. Lieutenant Jordan got more than 50 Fitchburg firefighters involved in the book project. He also has improved and maintained the District 8 Fire Safety House and trains members of area fire departments in its proper use.
|Hyannis Fire Department |
Firefighter/EMT Barry A. Pina
Because Barry Pina is a highly skilled Cardio-pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) instructor, he has been much in demand in the Cape Cod region for more than a decade and teaches CPR to hundreds of people each year. His students range from scouts and lifeguards to new moms and retirees. He provides this instruction to the public during his off-duty hours. He also provides CPR training to all shifts at the Hyannis Fire-Rescue Department.
Firefighter Pina also has organized the Hyannis Firefighters' Muscular Dystrophy Association efforts for 15 years and lends his expertise to regional efforts on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
|Special Appreciation Award |
|Fire Brigade Pipes and Drums|
Cambridge Fire Captain Robert Blake, Band Manager
Boston Gaelic Fire Brigade Pipes and Drums Band
Firefighter Jose Ramos, Pipe Major
Worcester Fire Brigade Pipes and Drums
Over the years, the members of the Boston Gaelic Fire Brigade and the Worcester Fire Brigade Pipes and Drums bands have shown tremendous support to the fire service. The bands confer an air of dignity to a wide variety of events, both joyful and solemn, throughout the Commonwealth. They have played a major role in this awards ceremony through the years, and we would like to thank them today for all that they do.
|Group Awards for Meritorious Conduct|
|Abington Fire Department |
Captain John Weckbacher, Firefighter Donald Leary, Firefighter Christa Larkin, Firefighter Richard Smith
Early on the morning of December 18, 2003, firefighters responded to a burning apartment building, where people were reported trapped inside. Four on-duty personnel were tied up at another incident, so off-duty personnel were recalled. Captain Weckbacher and Firefighter Larkin arrived to find heavy smoke and fire showing and an occupant visible at a window.
A crew ran a line through the front door and tried to keep the stairwell open for occupants exiting the building and for rescue. They found heavy smoke and fire conditions; fire extending up two separate stairwells with the fire being fed by a broken exterior gas service.Upon learning that the fire in the stairwell could not be quickly brought under control, firefighter Leary assisted by Firefighters Larkin and Smith and Captain John Nuttall, immediately put the aerial up to the only viable location. Captain Nuttall then rescued an elderly resident over the ladder. The resident was able to celebrate her 90th birthday the next week while on a respirator in the hospital.
|Lowell Fire Department|
|Lt. William E. Barrows, Firefighter Daniel J. Gannon III, Firefighter John R. Newell |
When firefighters responded to a burning three-story tenement in the early-morning hours of June 19, 2004, 2:30 a.m., they learned that five people were trapped on the top floor of 175 Liberty Street in Lowell. The building was hemmed in on two sides by adjacent tenements, and utility wires spanned the front of the building. Lt. Barrows and Firefighters Daniel Gannon and John Newell positioned the ladder truck in a parking lot behind the building and raised the aerial to a third floor window. Lt. Barrows and Firefighter Newell guided a man, a woman and a 3-year-old child onto the ladder and to safety moments before the fire consumed their apartment and vented itself through the roof.
|Revere Fire Department|
Chief Eugene Doherty, Firefighter Ken McDonald
On the evening of June 4, 2004, 7:39 p.m., Chief Doherty responded to a call about a disabled child, with no safety awareness, who had walked one-half mile into the water at Revere Beach. Her stepfather was attempting a rescue, and the two victims were perilously near to a steep drop at the offshore channel. When apparatus arrived, Firefighter McDonald and the chief entered the water and helped the two victims to shore, where they were treated on the scene.
|Uxbridge Fire Department|
Chief Harley Keeler (ret.), Captain Melissa Blodgett, Firefighter Brett Lisak
On the evening of September 21, 2003, 6:35 p.m., a radio call went out reporting that a youth had been buried in a sand pit in the vicinity of 785 Quaker Highway in South Uxbridge. Firefighter Brett Lisak was first on the scene, followed closely by Captain Blodgett and Chief Keeler. All three were off duty but had responded to the radio call.
Firefighter Lisak dug enough sand away from the victim's head to open an airway, while Chief Keeler and Captain Blodgett took steps to hold back the collapsing material while trying to extricate the victim. The collapsing material kept covering the air passage and threatened the safety of the three rescuers.
When the first EMS unit arrived, Chief Keeler coordinated an effort to stabilize the sand bank using backboards from the ambulance. All personnel worked feverishly to free the youth, who was extricated after about 45 minutes and taken to a trauma center, where he was treated and released.
|Westford Fire Department|
Firefighter/EMT Michael Denehy, Firefighter Stephen WykeOn December 21, 2003, career Firefighter Michael Denehy and call Firefighter/EMT Steven Wyke stretched a line into a burning house, backing up the first line in. Flames were in front of them, on the ceiling and on all sides, and visibility was minimal. Firefighter Denehy was on the nozzle when he suddenly fell through the floor. He remained calm and informed Firefighter Wyke that he had fallen. The two men used the hose line as a safety line, and as Firefighter Denehy began to slip further into the hole Firefighter Wyke grabbed onto his SCBA frame to hold him up. Working together as a team, with Firefighter Denehy pushing and Firefighter Wyke pulling from above, they managed to free Firefighter Denehy and get him back to the first floor uninjured.
|Westfield Fire Department |
Deputy Fire Chief Thomas Kane, Firefighter Patrick Egloff, Firefighter Roger Paye, Captain Roderick Maslauskas, Firefighter Glen Walz, Firefighter/Paramedic Steve Gaughan
On May 12, 2004, a rescue crew under the direction of Deputy Fire Chief Thomas Kane and Captain Roderick Maslauskas responded to a call at 3:45 p.m. at the Little River, in the vicinity of Ponders Hollow Road, where two young adults were clinging to trees, in danger of being carried away by a swift current. The victims were scared, tired and showing signs of hypothermia.
Firefighter Glen Walz was secured with a rescue line and entered the river twice to pull the two victims to safety. The team effort also included outstanding contributions from Firefighters Patrick Egloff and Roger Paye and Firefighter/Paramedic Steve Gaughan.
|Individual awards for meritorious conduct|
|Ashburnham Fire Department|
ENG/EMT Kent Klingenberg
On August 2, 2003, ENG/EMT Kent Klingenberg was responding to a call for mutual aid at a structure fire. While stretching a line inside the building with the rest of his crew, he became aware that his nozzle man began to fall through a hole in the floor that was masked by the heavy smoke. ENG/EMT Kent immediately grabbed the falling firefighter, who was waist-deep in the hole, and hoisted him to safety. Shortly thereafter, the house was evacuated due to the rapid progression of the fire.
|Medals of Valor|
|Abington Fire Department|
Captain John Nuttall
On January 12, 2004, 7:10 a.m., he responded to a fire that had trapped someone in a house at 101 Highland Road in Abington. The crew trying to run an attack line inside couldn't open the front door due to a buckled floor. Captain Nuttal went around to the back door and saw smoke and fire showing from a second-floor window. Without the protection of a hand line or backup, he ascended to the second floor, where he found the homeowner lying dazed on the floor. Captain Nuttal quickly moved him down the stairs and out of the building.
|Lowell Fire Department|
Lt. Joseph S. Roth, Firefighter Richard M. Latour
On June 19, 2004, 2:30 a.m., firefighters responded to a fire at 175 Liberty Street in Lowell, resulting in a family of three being rescued over a ladder. Meanwhile, a man called for help from a front window, and a thermal imaging camera revealed fire in the exterior walls of his apartment. The second alarm ladder company hadn't arrived and would have been hindered by the utility wires, so Lieutenant Joseph Roth and Firefighter Richard Latour entered the building and fought their way to the third floor. Despite zero visibility, Lt. Roth got close to the trapped man and guided him to his position, then led him from the building. However, the man informed the team that his girlfriend remained in the building.
Despite worsening conditions, Firefighter Latour immediately entered the apartment and began a search. He found the woman unconscious and dragged her to the relative safety of the stairwell. There, he was met by Lieutenant Roth, who helped him carry the woman downstairs to a waiting ambulance. Minutes later, fire burst through the wall and ceiling spaces, and the roof was consumed.
|Norwood Fire Department|
Lt. Robert P. Henry
On the afternoon of October 23, 2003, 3:19 p.m., a 9-1-1 call came in from a woman who said her house, located at 17 Ridgewood Drive in Norwood, was on fire. Responding firefighters found heavy black smoke and fire showing from a one-story ranch house. A neighbor informed the crew that an elderly couple lived in the house and that the man was disabled.
Lieutenant Robert Henry searched for a second means of egress after firefighters met heavy smoke and extreme heat after forcing the front door. He found a door in the rear, three feet off the ground with no steps, and opened it to a blast of heat and black smoke. He crawled into a bedroom, found an unconscious man on the floor and radioed for help. Lieutenant Henry dragged the victim to the door, where another firefighter removed him. Lieutenant Henry then headed back to find the second victim, locating her unconscious form inside the bedroom and dragging her back to the door, where she was also removed outside the burning building.
|Fire Marshal's Award|
Kathleen Minehan, Team Leader
Kathy Minehan, team leader of the WINGS program, is a woman who found the inner strength to go to the aid of others after losing her own husband in the line of duty. Kathy Minehan is the team leader of WINGS: Widows (and Widowers) in Need of Grief Support. She was one of a group of widows from the Boston area who provided emotional support to the six women who lost loved ones in the Worcester Cold Storage Fire five years ago. She also was a strong and supportive presence after the death of Firefighter Martin McNamara in Lancaster last year.As team leader, Mrs. Minehan has strongly supported training efforts. As a result, a group of about 12 women in the Northeast now have the skills to provide crisis intervention to spouses who need peer support. The WINGS team is sponsored by the On-Site Academy in Gardner, Massachusetts, which offers a residential retreat for spouses who have lost loved ones in the fire service.
Captain Brian McGowan, Scituate Fire Department
Captain McGowan also was moved to action by the Worcester tragedy. He came up with the idea of a sticker to commemorate his fallen Worcester brethren and, through sales of the W6 logo, has raised more than $130,000 for the Worcester Firefighters Memorial.
His efforts won the full support of the Scituate Fire Department. Since Captain McGowan began marketing the decals and stickers, the W6 symbol has become ubiquitous in the Fire Service. Whenever and wherever there is a gathering of members of the Fire Service, you're likely to see Captain McGowan hard at work keeping the memory of these brave Worcester firefighters alive.
|Medals of Honor|
Brookline Fire Department
Firefighter Irwin Gross (posthumously)
Marsha Wallace, Matthew Wallace-Gross, Elisabeth Gross
Brookline Firefighter Irwin "Buzz" Gross, valiantly served in the Brookline fire Department for 36 years. He was fatally injured while responding to an alarm on May 3, 2004.
Buzz Gross became a pioneer in the Brookline Fire Department as its first EMT in 1974. A year later he became a certified CPR instructor. He was an American Red Cross disaster volunteer during the 1970s and was involved in the training of other disaster volunteers who are still active today. Firefighter Gross also volunteered as an EMT at the Massachusetts Special Olympics Summer Games from 1985 to 1989.
He was a U.S. Army veteran, a SCUBA diver and a licensed electrician. He took special pride in his son Matthew Wallace-Gross, his daughter Elisabeth Gross and his grandson William Wallace-Gross.
Cambridge Fire Department
Captain Barry Bennett (posthumously)
Jane Bennett, Zachary Bennett, Christopher Bennett, Andrew Bennett
Cambridge Fire Captain Barry M. Bennett served the Cambridge Fire Department for more than 18 years. On the job, Barry was known for sizing up a situation and making quick no-nonsense choices on the fire ground. He would get in, get the job done right and get out safely.
While responding to a medical emergency in 1987, Captain Bennett was stuck by a needle. He contracted Hepatitis C, which led to his death on Nov. 2, 2003. At the time he was a lieutenant, but was a candidate for promotion to captain, and Chief Gerald Reardon promoted Barry to the rank of captain after his death.
Captain Bennett was a Vietnam veteran and held associate's and bachelor's degrees from the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. He also worked as an electronics engineer. Captain Bennett was known for his sense of humor and lived by the words: Don't sweat the small stuff. He also was a study in contrasts: He was a vegetarian, yet he loved bow hunting and, as an accomplished cook, would prepare meat and game of all sorts for guests in his home.
He was a devoted father to his three sons, Zack, Chris, and Andrew, and delighted in their company.
|Lancaster Fire Department|
Firefighter Martin McNamara (posthumously)
Claire McNamara, Molly McNamara, Elizabeth McNamara, Marty McNamara
Lancaster Firefighter McNamara was one of a long line of public servants. His father and grandfather had served as selectmen in Clinton, and, although he also lived in Clinton, he served the town of Lancaster as an on-call firefighter.
Martin McNamara died while battling an apartment house fire on November 29, 2003.
Firefighter McNamara was a loving husband and father. He had three daughters, Molly, 6, Elizabeth, 3, and Marty, who was born days after the fatal fire.
Firefighter McNamara was a man who lived life to the fullest and was deeply committed to the Fire Service mission. He worked for a drilling company in Sterling, but his goal was to make his career with the Fire Service. He was known as a generous person who was always thinking of those around him.