Centerville-Osterville-Marstons Mills firefighters honored at Firefighters of the Year awards

WORCESTER, MA – From Mass Governor’s Office and Mass Department of Fire Services: Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Public Safety Secretary Daniel Bennett and Undersecretary Patrick McMurray Tuesday joined State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey to honor Firefighters from 13 Massachusetts fire departments for heroic acts of bravery at the 29th annual “Firefighter of the Year” Awards ceremony, held at Worcester’s Mechanics Hall. The event was emceed by WCVB’s Maria Stephanos.

“We are incredibly proud to honor these courageous firefighters for their bravery and service to their local communities in times of danger,” said Governor Baker. “Massachusetts cities and towns are better places to live, work and raise a family because so many first responders selflessly answer to call to serve each and every day.”

“It is our privilege to honor the brave men and women who have all done something remarkable to earn this recognition,” said Lieutenant Governor Polito. “We also want to thank the families of Massachusetts firefighters for the daily sacrifices they make as their loved one serves to protect the community.”

“Firefighters are the ones we call when someone is stranded, has fallen through the ice, mixes up pool chemicals, has a heart attack, or a fire in their home,” said Secretary Bennett. “We do everything we can to support them through state-of-the art training, gear and resources to make a dangerous job a little less so.”

The Excellence in Leadership Award was presented to the Fraternal Order of Fire Fighter Military Veterans, Inc., a non-profit organization that advocates for the mental health of firefighters who are also veterans. “So many of today’s firefighters also served in the military. Both experiences can create a need to safely manage the stress and cumulative effect of seeing so much tragedy,” said Undersecretary of Homeland Security Patrick McMurray.

This year’s awardees included in the Medal of Valor category:

Captain Thomas J. Burchell
Lieutenant Eric Bengston
Lieutenant Thomas Goodearl
Firefighter David Gelinas
Firefighter Zachary Hunter
Firefighter John McGonigle
Firefighter Michael Perry
Firefighter Charles Riley
Firefighter Christopher Rogers
Firefighter Ryan Scott
Firefighter Jason Travis

Award(s): Citation, Valor (Burchell)

On the morning of January 27, Group 4 responded to Patty’s Pond in Barnstable for a report of a person who had fallen through the ice. Captain Thomas Burchell was first to arrive and saw a woman 100-yards from shore struggling to keep her head afloat and panicking. With no back up in sight and a Barnstable police officer holding his rope, Captain Burchell donned a survival suit and started out on the ice. Due to recent warm weather, the ice was too weak to walk on, so he got there by repeatedly falling through the ice and hoisting himself up and out of the water dozens of times until he reached the woman. When the rest of group 4 arrived, Firefighter Michael Perry donned a survival suit and he and Captain Burchell held the woman’s head above water and loaded her onto a rescue board. When the three arrived onshore, the woman was hand carried to a waiting ambulance and brought to Cape Cod Hospital where she survived. Two firefighters were treated for mild hypothermia onsite.

and in the Group Award for Meritorious Conduct:

Captain Richard Sargent
Lieutenant Christopher Adams
Lieutenant Enrique Arrascue
Lieutenant Jason Davern
Lieutenant Eric Sabatinelli
Firefighter Richard Anderson
Firefighter Michael Carney
Firefighter Edward Dalbec
Firefighter David Ferola
Firefighter Zachary Hunter
Firefighter Shawn Lehane
Firefighter Tom Long
Firefighter Matthew Malone
Firefighter Scott Mullin
Firefighter Michael Simmons
Firefighter Adam Travers

FPO Michael Grossman

Award(s): Citation, Valor (Arrascue, Davern)

On April 12, 2018, members of Centerville-Osterville-Marston Mills (COMM) Fire District Group 1 responded to 109 Blueberry Lane in Marston Mills to a report of “a police officer down”. Sadly, responding to scenes of violence is the new normal and firefighters are now training and prepared for these events.

Lt. Davern arrived first and faced a chaotic, still unfolding scene. Yarmouth Sergeant Gannon and his dog, Nero, had both been shot, and were still in the house with the suspect. With no protective ballistic gear and limited EMS equipment, Lt. Davern entered the home protected by a Barnstable police officer. He tried but was unable to remove Sergeant Gannon from the house alone. When Lt. Arrascue arrived on the ambulance, together they removed the wounded officer from the so-called “hot zone” – while the suspect was still in the house with his whereabouts unknown.

COMM firefighters met them at the front door with a longboard and removed Sgt. Gannon and his wounded dog from the home and into the ambulance. Firefighters treated and transported the mortally wounded Officer Gannon in an attempt to save his life, while the suspect was still barricaded in the building. They remained on scene throughout the evening continuing to provide EMS coverage to dozens of responding police officers and tactical teams and keeping the surrounding area safe, which included evacuating a daycare.

Unfortunately, Sergeant Gannon did not survive and died in the line of duty on April 12, 2018. He leaves behind a wife and his canine partner Nero.
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