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Gov. Patrick honors three Watertown firefighters at ceremony

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  December 1, 2011 01:25 PM

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Photo: Eric Haynes / Governor's Office

State officials at the Firefighter of the Year Award yesterday in Worcester. From left to right: Ed Kelly, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts; Chief Paul Zbikowski, president of Fire Chief's Association of Massachusetts; Secretary of Public Safety Elizabeth Heffernan; Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick; and Rev. James Tilbe, chief chaplain for the Mass. Corps of Fire Chaplains.

Three Watertown firefighters who helped save a suicidal man in August 2010 were among those honored by Gov. Deval Patrick, other state leaders and firefighting officials yesterday at the 22nd annual Firefighter of the Year awards,

Firefighters representing 32 communities received awards at the Hanover Theater in Worcester.

Retired Lt. Frank Aliquo and firefighters Michael Anastasi and David Meagher, all of watertown, were three of 19 to win an Individual Meritorious Conduct Award.

The three responded to a medical call on August 22, 2010 where a man with altered mental status was cutting himself with a large kitchen knife and was threatening to commit suicide, according to a prepared release.

After the police convinced the man to allow Anastasi to bandage his wounds, Anastasi developed a rapport with him and attempted to convince the man to disarm and surrender.

The man then reentered the home and ingested a bottle of pills with brandy. At this point, Lt. Aliquo, Anastasi, and Meagher developed a plan to take the man into custody.

They took physical control of the man, and he was later transported to the local emergency room and treated for lacerations and a drug overdose.

At the awards yesterday, Patrick joined Public Safety Secretary Mary Elizabeth Heffernan and State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan to honor the firefighters.

“On behalf of the Commonwealth, I want to thank our firefighters and their families for their sacrifices and support,” Patrick said. “These individuals deserve our recognition every day for their leadership, bravery, courage and selflessness in the face of danger.”

"We value the hard work of all firefighters who serve our Commonwealth," Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray said. "Today's award ceremony is an opportunity to honor the heroic men and women who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect our communities."

“It is important that the stories of the firefighters being honored here are told because their acts of bravery rise above the everyday heroics of the firefighting profession,” Heffernan said.

“This past year the Commonwealth experienced several extreme natural disasters,” said Coan. “Each and every time our firefighters heroically stepped to the plate to rescue and protect their neighbors often while their own homes and families were affected.”

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