BELMONT — The Irish American Police Officers Association (IAPOA) is pleased to announce that a North Reading Police Department officer was awarded the IAPOA Lifesaving Award for rescuing a sleeping man from a rapidly spreading house fire.
On Oct. 21, IAPOA Past Vice President Paul Upton and Past 2nd Vice President Jim Pierce visited the North Reading Police Department to present the award to North Reading Sgt. Thomas Encarnacao.
Early in the morning of Dec. 8, 2020, Sgt. Encarnacao had just finished working an evening shift and was driving home when he spotted flames coming from a home on Lowell Road in North Reading.
Sgt. Encarnacao immediately called for help on his department-issued police radio, then rushed into the burning home to alert sleeping residents.
While inside the home, Sgt. Encarnacao encountered a man asleep on a couch and got him safely out of the home even as he continued alerting other residents to the fire. Sgt. Encarnacao also continued providing radio updates on the situation to other North Reading police officers and North Reading firefighters who were responding to the home.
Several other residents, including a 13-year-old boy, ended up being rescued as well.
North Reading Fire Chief Don Stats said Sgt. Encarnacao’s actions at the scene before other responding units could arrive certainly saved lives.
“We are thankful that Sgt. Encarnacao was in the right place at the right time, and was able to use those extra minutes that he was on the scene to alert the residents and
assist in getting them out,” Chief Stats said. “Just a few minutes can make the difference in a fire, and I have no doubt that his efforts were lifesaving.”
North Reading Police Chief Michael Murphy was on hand as Sgt. Encarnacao was presented the award.
“Our department’s response to the fire on December 8, 2020 was truly courageous. Sergeant Encarnacao took decisive action and led a team of officers into a burning home,” Chief Murphy said. “Once he was able to get the first resident out, he, Officer Nick Amirault and Officer Sean Lawson went back in without protective gear to make sure no one else was inside. To be able to get the other two residents out safely, was truly heroic. Sergeant Encarnacao is truly deserving of this award.”
“Sgt. Encarnacao’s actions show what many of us already know: That first responders don’t stop being heroes when their usual shifts are over,” said Past Vice President Upton. “Even after completing his scheduled work for the day, Sgt. Encarnacao didn’t hesitate to put his life on the line in an effort to help others, and his efforts were clearly successful.”
The IAPOA usually holds an annual awards dinner for all honorees, but has been unable to do so for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year the IAPOA is recognizing honorees by traveling to meet them and present the awards individually. The IAPOA is hopeful they will be able to host an in-person dinner and awards ceremony again next year.
Individuals and organizations can be nominated for awards in six categories:
- Meritorious Service
- Community Service
- Humanitarian Acts
The IAPOA also recognizes the sacrifice made in line-of-duty deaths with a Medal of Honor presented posthumously to the families of fallen officers.
The IAPOA is a designated 501(c)(3) charitable organization. For further information or to become a member, visit www.irishamericanpolice.org.