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Romney honors 30 firefighters

Governor Mitt Romney yesterday honored 30 firefighters, including three who died in the line of duty, at the 15th annual Firefighter of the Year Awards.

Romney pledged to work with the Legislature to come up with a solution for providing financial support to family members of volunteer firefighters who die on duty, such as Lancaster firefighter Martin McNamara.

''Too often, a person lives an entire life without ever knowing for sure what kind of mark he or she has left on the world," Romney said.

''But that can never be said of the people we honor today."

Receiving posthumous Medals of Honor were: McNamara, who died in an apartment fire Nov. 29, 2003; Brookline firefighter Irwin Gross, a 36-year veteran of the force who was fatally injured May 3 responding to an alarm; and Cambridge fire Captain Barry Bennett, who was stuck by a needle and contracted hepatitis C while responding to an emergency call in 1987. The disease led to his death last year.

Other award recipients included: Fitchburg Lieutenant Philip D. Jordan Jr. and Hyannis firefighter and EMT Barry A. Pina, both for community service; and the Boston Fire Brigade Pipes and Drums Band and Worcester Fire Brigade Pipes and Drum Band.

Group awards for meritorious conduct were given to: Abington Captain John Weckbacher and firefighters Christa Larkin, Donald Leary, and Richard Smith; Lowell Lieutenant William Barrow and firefighters Daniel Gannon and John Newell; Revere Chief Eugene Doherty and firefighter Ken McDonald; Uxbridge Chief Harley Keeler, Captain Melissa Blodgett and firefighter Brett Lisak; Worcester firefighter/EMT Michael Denehy and firefighter Stephen Wyke; Westfield Deputy Chief Thomas Kane, Captain Roderick Maslauskas, firefighters Roger Paye, Glen Walz, Patrick Egloff, and paramedic/firefighter Steve Gaughan.

An individual award for meritorious conduct was given to EMT Kent Klingenberg of the Ashburnham Fire Department.

Medals of Valor were given to: Abington Captain John Nuttall; Lowell Lieutenant Joseph Roth and firefighter Richard Latour; and Norwood Lieutenant Robert Henry.

The Fire Marshal's Award was given to Scituate Captain Brian McGowan and Kathleen Minehan, the team leader of WINGS, or Widows and Widowers in Need of Grief Support.

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