WORCESTER (CBS) – They’re willing to risk their lives for us, and Tuesday firefighters from across Massachusetts were honored at the Firefighter of the Year Awards recognizing heroism, service and selflessness, including two men who made the ultimate sacrifice.
They filed into Mechanics Hall in Worcester as the bagpipes played. Thirty-one awards were given to 72 honorees. “Even as we sit here in this beautiful hall, firefighters around the Commonwealth are responding to incidents not knowing what they will encounter. They never know what they will face when the alarm sounds,” says state Fire Marshal Stephen Coan.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports
The highest recognition was the Medal of Honor, granted posthumously to Worcester firefighter Jon Davies and Peabody firefighter James Rice, both killed in the line of duty. “Thank you for the service, for the sacrifice you render and for the spirit in which you render it. We owe thanks as well to the families of our firefighters,” says Governor Deval Patrick.
Amy Rice accepted the medal for her husband, James. “All it takes is one time. One time, that’s it. One time to go out, a small, innocent fire, and they don’t come home. I think people need to know what they do is serious,” says Mrs. Rice.
Firefighters also received medals of valor for rescuing children and the elderly, for saving a teenager from a burning car and protecting and rescuing fellow firefighters. “What goes through our head is that we just have a job to do. We’ve got to do what we’re trained to do,” says Capt. Rebecca Boutin of the Westfield Fire Dept., who is one of today’s award recipients.
Four professors from Worcester Polytechnic Institute also received awards for creating new tracking technology to help firefighters who are inside burning buildings.