New firefighters sworn in; others honored for bravery

Firefighters don’t see themselves as heroes: Saving lives is what they do, said Fire Chief Douglas Edo in a ceremony Tuesday night, where eight firefighters were sworn in, others were recognized for advancements and others were honored for heroic actions.

Chief Edo quoted Edward F. Croker (1899-1911) a New York fire chief, when he said, “When a man becomes a fireman, his greatest act of bravery has been accomplished. What he does after that is all in the line of duty.”

Fire Commissioner Kevin McGrath credited Edo with bringing the ceremony back. It hadn’t been held in Milford in four years.

The ceremony at Milford City Hall included bagpipers, a color guard and remarks by the Rev. Karl Deutzman, who prayed that “the light always shines from the firehouses in our city.”

The city’s eight newest firefighters have been on duty since about the first of the year, and replace retired firefighters. They are Jeffery Maurutis, Joseph Sandagata, Brian Carpenter, Joshua Stanton, Vincenzo Garcia, Timothy Suden, Gregroy Prior and Joseph DeMartino.

Special awards

While it is in the line of duty to save lives, Edo said sometimes firefighters go beyond the call of duty. Special awards were presented Tuesday to firefighters and one dispatcher who went beyond the call of duty.

Dispatcher Shaileen Morton received the dispatcher’s medal of merit. In 2012, Morton received a 911 call and talked the caller through the Heimlich maneuver while directing another dispatcher to dispatch emergency units. The caller was able to perform the Heimlich maneuver on a choking victim and cleared the choker’s airway.

All the while, Morton remained calm and professional, said Fire Department Spokesman Greg Carman.

Unit citations were awarded to Engines 5 and 6, Tower 1 and Rescue 2 for their action during a fatal fire on Summit Avenue Nov. 5, 2013.

“While under a stressful situation these firefighters remained professional and determined in the execution of the many assignments involved during a fire scene, especially when a citizen’s life was endangered.”

Called to accept the award were Firefighters John O’Brien, Patrick McGee, Douglas Hannigan, Lt. David Heenan, Greg Gaffney, Brett Corris, Michael Dunn, Karl Hofmeister, Jason Dombrowski and Matthew Ramos.

Valiant effort

The meritorious service award, given to a department member for an outstanding deed performed in the line of duty at the risk of personal injury, went to Lt. David Heenan and Firefighter Brett Corris.

On the night of that fateful fire on Summit Avenue, when a Milford man died, the two firefighters did everything they could to save him, Carman said.

“Even before the primary hoseline was placed into operation, Lt. Heenan and Firefighter Corris entered the front door,” Carman said. “While Firefighter Corris made a search of the bottom floor, having moderate smoke conditions, Lt. Heenan made a search of the fire room and adjacent kitchen by peering under a thick layer of heavy smoke and high heat with no results in finding the occupants.”

The two men met up at the top of the stairs and continued their search into the other parts of the home, while other firefighters  battled the blaze.

They soon came upon a non-responsive male, quickly positioned themselves around the victim, carried him outside and began resuscitation efforts.

The two were honored for the efforts they made.

For Sandy Hook

Department members also were honored for their efforts to raise money and build a playground in honor of Sandy Hook victims.

Ron Wetmore led the project, raising $96,000 for the playground, which was built at The Academy on Gulf Street.

“I had a lot of help,” Wetmore said, accepting his award. “Everybody stepped up, so I appreciate it.”

Mike Dunn, representing Firefighters Union Local 944, accepted an award on behalf of the union for its efforts in helping to build the playground

“Ronnie stepped up to the plate,” Dunn said, crediting Wetmore. “If not for the union and the people in this town, we’d have never gotten it built.”

Officers who have been promoted were also honored Tuesday night: They include Lt. Kyle Wengenroth, Jeffery Luciano, Thomas Piskura and Fire Inspector Stephen Mantie.

Last, pins were awarded for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years of service to the department.