WORCESTER – Wednesday, December 18, 2012 – Governor Deval Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray today joined Public Safety Secretary Mary Elizabeth Heffernan and State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan to honor firefighters from 15 Massachusetts communities for heroic acts of bravery during the 23rd annual “Firefighter of the Year” Awards ceremony. The ceremony was held at Mechanics Hall in Worcester.
“On behalf of the Commonwealth, we thank all the firefighters, their families and loved ones, for their service and courage to keep us safe,” said Governor Patrick. “We appreciate, honor and value your sacrifices and selflessness in the face of danger.”
"Last December, the Commonwealth lost two brave firefighters from Peabody and Worcester,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "Today, we pay tribute to those brave men and their families, and honor all of the heroic men and women of the fire service who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect our communities."
“Firefighting is one of the most honorable professions. Day in and day out, firefighters answer the call without regard to their personal safety,” said Secretary Heffernan. “ I want to recognize their bravery and sacrifice, and thank them for always going above and beyond to keep us safe.”
Governor Patrick and Secretary Heffernan presented 31 awards: the Norman Knight Award for Excellence in Community Service, which was awarded to a Maynard firefighter; 9 Individual Awards for Meritorious Conduct to firefighters from Brookline Easton, Leominster, Stow and Worcester; three Group Awards for Meritorious Conduct to teams of firefighters from Leominster, Peabody and Worcester. 14 Medals of Valor to individual firefighters from Bridgewater, Fitchburg, Hyannis, Lynn, Salem, Saugus, Peabody, Westfield and Worcester; and two Medals of Honor were presented to the families of Peabody Firefighter James Rice and Worcester Firefighter Jon R. Davies, who died in December 2011 fires.
State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan presented the Fire Marshal’s Award to four Worcester Polytechnic Institute professors who were inspired by the December 1999 tragedy at the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse to apply their talents to improving firefighter safety. The Fire Marshal’s Award recognizes the contributions of those outside the fire service to fire and life safety. Coan said, “Professors James Duckworth, John Orr, David Cyganiski and Kathy Notarianni were honored for their work on three projects that will improve firefighter safety for decades to come.”
The Precision Indoor Personnel Location and Tracking system has addressed difficult technological barriers to locating firefighters inside a building during a fire; the Flashover Prediction project will help predict the most dangerous situation for a firefighter when everything in a room reaches the same temperature and ignites; and the Immediate Danger to Life and Health (IDLH) Situational Awareness project will help to detect deadly gases such as cyanide, that can be absorbed through the skin and contaminates protective clothing. He said, “They imagined what could be and then invented it.”
The Patriot Award was presented to Swansea Firefighter Joel R. Beaulieu who distinguished himself during his deployment on active military duty in Afghanistan. After being injured by an IED himself, he rescued a civilian interpreter while they still under attack and continued to command his troops. For his professional achievement in performance of his duties Lieutenant Beaulieu was awarded the navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. For Wounds Received in Action, Lieutenant. Beaulieu was awarded the Purple Heart.
For photos, go to the Massachusetts Department of Fires Services Facebook page or Governor Patrick's Flickr page .