Monday, November 23, 2009

Firefighter heroes to get recognition


Summoning incredible strength, Firefighter Alario pushed the heavy wheelchair to safety and then joined another firefighter on a hose.
-- From citation for Gardner Firefighter Anthony Alario

WORCESTER — Several Worcester firefighters and a Gardner firefighter will all receive awards Dec. 3 during the 20th annual Firefighter of the Year Awards, which will take place at The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts.

The event is taking place on the 10-year anniversary of the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. building fire, which took the lives of six Worcester firefighters. The city is planning a memorial event following the state’s award ceremony, which starts at 2 p.m.

Worcester Fire Lt. John Dwyer and Firefighters Paul Grazulis and Thomas Dwyer will receive awards for saving three people trapped on the fifth floor at 167 Pleasant St. as fire engulfed the building March 5.

The firefighters, all from Ladder 2, were among the first to arrive at the scene. The men saw two people in a fifth-floor window and noticed they were unable to escape.

According to a news release from the MA Executive Office of Public Safety and Department of Fire Services, the firefighters moved the ladder to reach the window. The two people were brought to safety.

“They then returned to the fifth floor to check for remaining victims, and discovered one occupant still asleep in his bed,” the release said. “He was awakened and taken down the aerial ladder, just before flames and smoke engulfed the fifth floor.”

Those firefighters join comrades District Chief Geoffrey Gardell and Firefighters Robert Judge and Robert Pastor as award recipients.

On Jan. 6, firefighters arrived at a building at 27 Haynes St. to find fire shooting out of a third-floor apartment. Neighbors told firefighters the third-floor resident, 43-year-old Kevin Theis, was still inside.

Chief Gardell and Firefighters Pastor and Judge went inside using a back set of stairs and entered the apartment.

“Through heavy smoke, high heat, and intensifying, moving flames, the men conducted a search of the apartment,” the release said. “Firefighter Judge located the unconscious occupant, and with conditions deteriorating, the rescue crew removed the victim from the apartment.”

Mr. Theis did not survive and was pronounced dead at a city hospital.

Members of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1009 will be represented by Worcester Fire Capt. Philip Sullivan as the union members receive an award for building ramps for handicapped people through a United Way program.

According to the release, in winter 2006 a retired member of the union needed a ramp built.

The fire service went to Grafton in the dead of winter and started work.

“It was a great day — a frozen pile of lumber, a Bobcat with an auger bit, and lots of coffee,” the release said. “As 2007 rolled in, the crew completed 12 projects.”

Gardner Firefighter Anthony R. Alario responded to an automatic alarm Jan. 5 for an apartment complex fire on Lake Street. He groped blindly through the smoke and steam inside the building.

“In spite of low to zero visibility conditions, he discovered a man trapped in a stalled motorized wheelchair and in danger of succumbing to smoke inhalation,” the news release said. “Summoning incredible strength, Firefighter Alario pushed the heavy wheelchair to safety and then joined another firefighter on a hose, helping to save the building by putting out the deadly flames.”