DRACUT — The Dracut Fire Department held the first of what it is hoped will become an annual ceremony to recognize bravery and exceptional work among firefighters, and to promote and swear in members.
In a ceremony at Harvey J. Gagnon Harmony Hall, Chief Richard Patterson presented several members with awards for service in the past year, a tradition he intends to make an annual event.
“Each and every day the members of your Fire Department give nothing short of 100 percent and face the challenges presented to them. I am proud to be a member of such a dedicated group of individuals,” said Chief Patterson. “They all deserve recognition. We have both good days and bad days on the job, and while some individuals will be highlighted tonight for the good days, I guarantee there is a team behind them that helped make them a success.”
Lt. Shane O’Donnell, president of the firefighters union, IAFF Local 2586, said firefighters often deflect praise by saying, “It’s just part of the job,” and have difficulty accepting individual praise because of their belief in teamwork, and desire to live up to the standards set by previous firefighters. But Lt. O’Donnell also said he was excited at the prospect of an annual gathering to reflect on successes.
“We’re not great at ‘atta boys.’ You really don’t get told ‘good job,'” Lt. O’Donnell said. “So to set a night like tonight where we can let our guard down and really reflect on some of the achievements, lifetime goals, and hard work and dedication in this town — it’s important.”
Lt. O’Donnell also thanked members’ families for their support and sacrifice.
“We couldn’t do it without you,” he said.
Louise Tremblay Community Service Award: Retired Capt. Timothy Grimes
Capt. Timothy Grimes recently retired after a 25-year career with the Department. He spearheaded many of the Department’s charitable initiatives, such as Toys for Local Children, Make a Date With Life campaigns, and Santa at the Firehouse.
“Tim has put in hundreds of hours of time and effort to ensure that no child went without on Christmas, to ensure children got a chance to meet Santa, or to ensure a family was properly cared for after a fire,” said Chief Patterson. “In his last days of service with the department before retirement, Tim called asking how he could assist a family burned out of their home.”
The Louise Tremblay Community Service Award recognizes Tremblay’s lifetime of volunteerism in support the Fire Department and Town.
Fire Chief’s Award: Dracut Fire Investigation Unit
Deputy Chief Alex Voulgaris, Firefighter Sean Bushnell, and Dracut Police Lt. Wilmer Buote were recognized for their work to determine the cause of several complex fires, and to bring charges in three arson cases in recent years. The Unit is joint operation with the Dracut Police Department.
“Well after a fire is out and the trucks have left the scene, the work of the Fire Investigation Unit is just beginning. They spend hours, days, and even months at times analyzing evidence, tracking down information, and following up on outcomes,” said Chief Patterson. “The work of fire investigation units nationwide is largely responsible for consumer product safety alerts and recalls protecting consumers from purchasing dangerous products. Its isn’t just figuring out how a fire starts.”
The Fire Chief’s Award, is not an annual award, and is given only at the chief’s discretion.
Rescue Medal: Lt. Mark Armstrong and Firefighters Scott McMeniman and Brian Gagnon
On Dec. 9, 2021, Engine 3 responded as mutual aid to a three-alarm fire in Hudson, N.H. The crew, Lt. Mark Armstrong and Firefighters Scott McMeniman and Brian Gagnon, were assigned to stretch a hose line into the first floor. As they were gearing up, a firefighter from another community fell through the first floor and into the home’s basement, which was heavily involved in fire. The Dracut crew responded immediately to that firefighter’s mayday call.
“Engine 3’s crew entered the first floor, with minimal visibility, and assisted passing a ladder to the crew of the trapped member,” Chief Patterson said. “They then assisted with removing that firefighter to the outside, where he was treated by EMS and transported to the hospital with relatively minor injuries. This rescue literally took seconds, and was done in such an organized and professional manner that the Rapid Intervention Team, stationed in front of the building, didn’t even have time to pick up their gear.”
Town Clerk Jayne Boissonneault swore in a number of new department members, and those members who have ascended in rank: Firefighters Thomas Joyce, Daniel Powers, and Bernardo Resto-Salgado, Lieutenants Matthew Silva, Shane O’Donnell, Joel Howard, and Joseph Dailey, Jr., Captains Albert Stamp and Kevin Bigold, and Deputy Chief Alexander Voulgaris.