The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass.
ROCKLAND — Three Rockland firefighters will be honored by the state for their role in saving a woman from a burning three-story housing complex last January.
Rockland Fire Chief Scott Duffey said he nominated Capt. Jason Fricker and firefighters Richard Furlong Sr. and Michael Tracy for the state’s Firefighter of the Year awards, normally held in November.
Duffey said he was notified that the three fighters he nominated will receive awards but which, exactly, will not be known until the awards ceremony, which has not been scheduled.
Duffey said the firemen are being honored for what happened on Jan. 2, 2020, just after midnight, when they received a call for a fire at 20 East Water St.
“The guys were already up and awake, as they had just come back from a medical,” Duffey said. “The ambulance was at the hospital, so that left three guys to respond to the fire.”
Fricker and Tracy put on their gear and went into the building with a fire hose while Furlong stayed at the truck to run the pump. Duffey arrived at the scene just as they headed into the building. The fire was burning in an apartment on the second floor.
“They get in there and firefighter Tracy, he’s about to start fighting it when he hears what he describes as a moan from the stairs up above,” Duffey said. “He goes up to investigate and he finds a female victim, unconscious.”
He got her down to the entrance of the building where two Rockland firefighters helped get her to safety before he went back up. As Fricker tried to douse the flames and contain the fire, Tracy tried to go one level up to search for more victims but he got three steps up the flight of stairs before the heat was too much.
“The fire got out of control, it was up to their heads,” Duffey said.
The two firefighters had to retreat and begin fighting the fire from the outside of the building because it was too hot and dangerous inside.
Firefighters from other departments, as well as off-duty Rockland firefighters, began to show up. Within 20 minutes, the fire was under control and firefighters searched the six-unit building.
Duffey said when the three fire fighters arrived at the scene, there was little they could do with so few people.
“The captain was hoping to get a quick knockdown,” Duffey said. “Many times the easiest way to save lives is to get the fire out, but it had taken hold of the apartment by the time they got there.”
The building had asphalt shingles under the siding, which helped the fire.
“It just took off,” he said. “The fire just ripped right up the side of that building.
The building was ultimately saved, although heavily damaged. It was the biggest fire Duffey has handled during his tenure as chief.
Duffey said this is the second time Tracey will be recognized. He was honored after a fire at least 15 years ago, where he helped pull a woman out of a burning house.
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