COMM firefighters cited for bravery after April shooting

A Barnstable Patriot article written by Bronwen Howells Walsh on October 18, 2018 details the Centerville-Osterville-Marstos Mills Fire District's Recognition Night, where five firefighters were honored for their bravery.

COMM firefighters cited for bravery after April shooting

Coinciding with National Fire Prevention Week, Centerville-Osterville-Martstons Mills Fire Chief Michael Winn honored five firefighters who placed themselves in extreme danger in the line of duty earlier this year.

“The best part of a fire station is the firefighters inside,” Winn said in his opening remarks at the 5th annual COMM Firefighter Recognition Ceremony on Oct. 15.

Attending the ceremony with COMM firefighters and their families were State Sen. Julian Cyr (D-Truro) and Rep. Will Crocker (R-Centerville), Barnstable Town Council President Eric Steinhilber, Town Councilors Britt Beedenbender, James Crocker, John Flores, Matt Levesque, and Paul Neary; and Yarmouth Police Chief Frank Frederickson.

Among those awarded a valor pin, Statehouse commendations, and a medal with the town of Barnstable seal were Lt. Jason Davern, Lt. Enrique Arrascue, and firefighters Tom Long and Scott Mullin. Together, they recovered slain Yarmouth Police Sgt. Sean Gannon and his K-9 partner, Nero, from a standoff in Marstons Mills on April 12.

Winn called it a day that will never be forgotten on Cape Cod.

“These four members faced one of the worst situations imaginable with an officer down, mortally wounded, and the perpetrator mere feet away and unsecured,” Winn said. “They entered the house and removed Gannon with no protective equipment while placing themselves in extreme danger.”

Winn commended the firefighters, Capt. Richard Sargent, shift commander, and dispatcher William Monroe for their teamwork and “one of the most courageous acts of selflessness” that Winn said he has witnessed in his 27 years of service as a firefighter.

“Like everyone here at COMM, the considered it doing their job,” Winn said. “All of you are deserving of our thanks and recognition for the risks you take every day.”

Frederickson remarked that he saw the toll the incident took on all of them.

“But we shouldered it together,” Frederickson said. “We will always be there with you.”

Winn also recognized Capt. Thomas Burchell, who on Jan. 27 made what Winn called “a split-second, selfless decision” to rescue a woman who had fallen through the ice on Paddy’s Pond and was in imminent danger of drowning.

Inch by inch, Burchell moved onto the ice, repeatedly falling through and hoisting himself up and out of the water dozens of times to reach the victim, Winn said.

Despite no immediate backup, Burchell held the woman’s head above water as he and firefighter Michael Perry loaded her onto a rescue board. She was transported to Cape Cod Hospital and survived. Burchell and Perry were treated for hypothermia.

Winn then read aloud a letter from the rescued woman’s husband, saying “no words can convey the gratitude that we feel for your saving my wife’s life.”

Firefighter Patrick Hill was promoted to lieutenant, and service pins were awarded to COMM firefighters who have served 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40 years.

Tim Storie, a Barnstable High School senior, was named as the department’s intern for the 2018-2019 school year.

Winn also thanked the firefighters’ families, saying, “I know that the events of the last 12 months have gone home with many of us. We are one family, and I thank you.”

Read the article here.