NAUGATUCK — The work of firefighters does not go unrewarded in the borough.
The Naugatuck Fire Department and Fire Commission held its second annual recognition ceremony last Wednesday night to acknowledge the actions of firefighters throughout the previous year.
Over the past year, the department saw its share of action. Firefighters rescued three kayakers who were stranded in Naugatuck River following record breaking rainfall and six citizens from the third floor of an apartment building on fire at 66 Terrace Ave. Borough firefighters also helped to save a man who had fallen from a ledge in Naugatuck State Forest and a man who had stabbed himself after waded into the Naugatuck River.
“The acts of these firefighters are a credit to themselves and the Naugatuck Fire Department,” Fire Commission Chairman Wayne Malicki said.
Mayor Robert Mezzo said the firefighters lead busy lives, but it’s important to take the time to honor their actions.
“It’s important to recognize the good that these firemen do for our department and to celebrate the milestones of achievement that you’ll hear about tonight,” Mezzo said.
The ceremony also recognized those who went above and beyond their job descriptions.
Two Commissioner’s Awards were presented during the evening to those who assisted in the betterment of the department.
The first was presented to Capt. James Tzraski and firefighters Leonard Patterson, John Lauer and Walter Seamen in recognition of the work they did in overhauling and remodeling the outdated dispatch center.
“They gave the room a complete overhaul which included, among other tasks, moving the radio console, desk, putting up paneling, mounting radios on walls. These firefighters worked diligently, sometimes bringing in their own tools to complete the tasks,” Malicki said.
He said the firefighters received no additional compensation for the work that was done on the dispatch center.
The second Commissioner’s Award was presented to Capt. Richard Alfes, Capt. Vincent Healy along with firefighters Leonard Patterson, James Ricci, John DeBisschop, Stephen Sousa, Stephen Hebb and John Lauer for replacing the flagpole outside of the firehouse in time for Memorial Day.
Malicki said that Lyman Brothers donated the cement, gravel, and services to help complete the job. Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi helped procure funding for the pole and flag and the Street Department donated a jackhammer and backhoe to help with the project, Malicki said.
“It was truly a cooperative effort between the Borough of Naugatuck, the Naugatuck Fire Department 1219, and local businesses,” Malicki said. “The new department flagpole project was completed in time to be included in the sunrise ceremony on Memorial Day.”
Fire Chief Ken Hanks said the department is thought of highly in the community and across the state.
“I get out into the community a lot and talk to people. I always hear good things about the fire department and the firefighters,” Hanks said.
Hanks added, “I travel all over the state, to various departments, and always hear positive things about Naugatuck. You make me proud to be the fire chief of Naugatuck.”
Mezzo said the firefighters are thought of so highly not just because of what they do on duty, but what they in their personal time as well.
“When I look around the room and see the men here who make up our fire department, I don’t just see firefighters. I see little league coaches. I see leaders of boy scouts. I see those who are involved with veterans’ affairs. I see great fathers, husbands, and sons. And that’s what makes a great organization, the people who go above and beyond in their work and people who go even further in their community,” Mezzo said.
During the evening Scoutmaster Ed Fennel of Boy Scout Troop 138 presented the Wooden Nickel Award to both Hanks and DeBisschop to recognize the help the troop has received from the department.
The award, Fennell explained, was originally for scouts outside of Troop 138 that were advancing the program. However, the scouts felt that with all the fire department has done for them, it deserved the award.
The department brought a fire truck and smoke house to the scout’s camporee to help educate the scouts and provided the resources for a merit bade instructor to prepare an emergency shelter to name couple of way the department has helped.
“Boy Scout Troop 138 and the Naugatuck Fire Department have a long history of working together to advance the community,” Fennell said.
While the evening was for the firefighters, Mezzo took a moment to recognize the families of the firefighters as well.
“It’s not easy on the schedules, it’s not easy on the nights away, it’s not easy when you think someone’s coming home for dinner and they get called in to do even more, and each and every one of you are part of the fire department that we have here,” Mezzo said.