Eastham Firefighter among recipients of 33rd Annual Firefighter of the Year Awards

Eastham Fire/CWN

WORCESTER, MA – Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, and Public Safety Secretary Terrence M. Reidy today joined State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey to honor firefighters from across Massachusetts at the 33rd annual Firefighter of the Year Awards ceremony, held at Worcester’s Mechanics Hall. WCVB’s Doug Meehan emceed the event.

“Over and over again, we see firefighters putting themselves in harm’s way or even life-threatening danger to rescue strangers from harm,” said Governor Baker. “These awards reflect selfless acts of courage, compassion, and service by truly remarkable public servants.”

“Even by the high standards we see in the fire service every day, certain actions truly rise above and beyond the call of duty,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “The Firefighter of the Year awards recognize those heroes among us who rush to help whenever that bell rings. On duty or off, they’re the ones we can always count on to risk everything so that others might live.”

“Across the Commonwealth, professional and volunteer firefighters use their training and expertise to deliver life-saving service in – what is for many – their greatest hour of need,” said Public Safety and Security Secretary Terrence Reidy. “We honor today’s recipients for their extraordinary acts of bravery and service and extend our sincere gratitude to fire safety personnel who work selflessly and tirelessly to keep our communities safe.”

“The common theme in these awards is heroic action to protect vulnerable people from harm,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “It may be pulling a trapped occupant through the third-floor window of a burning home. It may be protecting a distraught person on the ledge of a building. It may be providing education, services, and crisis resources in their communities. And it may be protecting firefighters from the grave threat that occupational cancer poses to their health and safety. Regardless of the circumstances, each of them is a true hero.”

Governor Baker, Secretary Reidy, and State Fire Marshal Ostroskey presented 10 medals of valor, nine individual citations for meritorious conduct, seven group citations for meritorious conduct, and two Norman Knight Award for Excellence in Community Service to members of 17 Massachusetts fire departments. The awards reflect lifesaving rescues, lengthy and complex operations at structure fires and crash sites, and off-duty action to render medical aid when every second counted.

The Stephen D. Coan Fire Marshal’s Award is the only award for which non-firefighters may be eligible. State Fire Marshal Ostroskey presented this award to a dermatologist from Harvard, Massachusetts, who volunteers through the Department of Fire Services to screen thousands of firefighters for skin cancer, a form of occupational cancer for which firefighters are at heightened risk. Her brother, a Chelsea firefighter and Massachusetts Firefighting Academy instructor, lost his life to occupational cancer at just 37 years old.

Eastham Fire Department Lieutenant Rachel Topal won the Norman Knight Award for Excellence in Community Service. Lt. Topal has been the Eastham Fire Department’s Community Outreach Coordinator for the past decade. In addition to her duties as a shift lieutenant, she educates children and seniors on fire safety and prevention. She hosts “Read with a Firefighter” at the firehouse and the local library, and she coordinates the annual Community Health Fair with the Council on Aging. Recognizing the unique safety hazards that older adults face, Lt. Topal routinely visits at-risk seniors on her days off just to check in on them. She routinely works with the Council on Aging to identify the most vulnerable residents to be sure they receive all the social and safety services they need. Lt. Topal is a lifeline for many members of Eastham’s growing elder population, and she personifies the Department’s community service mission.

737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
Contact Us | Advertise Terms of Use 
Employment and EEO | Privacy