Five Firefighters Up for Awards

Chelsea Fire has been no stranger to the annual statewide Firefighter of the Year awards.

Last year, the Department had one statewide award winner, and in the past there have been numerous top-flight honorees.

This year, however, five firefighters will be taking the stage at Monday’s Firefighter of the Year Awards on the campus of MIT in Cambridge to receive various awards for bravery and courage in completing their duties.

Two of those honorees, Firefighter Angel Arrieta and Miguel Acosta, are believed to be in contention for the top awards by the state Department of Public Safety and the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Gov. Charlie Baker will present the awards during the ceremony.

Firefighter Arrieta is expected to perhaps be a top award winner at the awards for a lifesaving rescue on Sunday, Dec. 21 at a house fire in 77 Essex St.

The two-story home had a one-story attached apartment, which had caught fire. The scene was chaotic as civilians were frantically trying to get back into the building to save people trapped inside.

As the crew of Tower 1 searched for and removed occupants from floor 2 of the fire building, an additional report was received by command that two occupants were trapped on the first floor. The reporting party indicated the occupants were in the 1-story addition of the fire building which appeared to be a garage or old storefront. The windows of this addition were boarded up and the front door was heavily fortified delaying entry by Ladder 2’s crew who were directed by command to perform a primary search.

While members from Ladder 2 and Engine 2 attempted to gain entry into the one-story addition, Firefighter Arrieta checked the small addition of the structure and found a male resident trying to enter through a side door in an effort to rescue the occupants inside. Firefighter Arrieta directed the occupant away from the building, donned his gear, and entered the fire building via the side door. Firefighter Arrieta crawled into the building and started to search for the trapped occupants. At this point the other side of the one-story addition was heavily involved in fire. In zero visibility and without the protection of a hose line, Firefighter Arrieta proceeded to search the structure by himself. As the truck companies vented the roof, the smoke lifted slightly which allowed Firefighter Arrieta to see slightly above the floor level. Firefighter Arrieta found what he thought was a pile of clothes, on the floor, in the middle room just off of the kitchen. He immediately realized this was in fact a person and began to drag the victim away from the fire and towards the side entrance.

That person happened to be an acquaintance by the name of Delves Vega-Santana, and he was in grave danger.

Firefighter Arrieta made it to the side entrance door where he passed the victim to Captain Mike Gurska and Firefighter Mike Pagliocca. CPR was immediately initiated and paramedics were directed to assist with the crew who were attempting to revive the patient. After a hospital stay, Vega-Santana did recover.

“Firefighter Arrieta’s actions were nothing short of extraordinary,” read a statement from the CFD. “I respectfully request that Firefighter Arrieta be recognized by the department for his quick and heroic actions, which undoubtedly saved the life of Mr. Delves Vega-Santana.”

Firefighter Acosta is also expected to receive high honors at Monday’s ceremony for a fire on Feb. 7 at 160 Broadway where his actions saved the life of Kathleen Griffin, who lived on the third floor.

On arrival that day, fire companies encountered a heavy fire condition on the third floor of the occupied mixed-use building. Chelsea Police officers were on scene reporting a woman trapped on the 3rd floor.

Engine 2’s crew advance an attack line to the 3rd floor via the interior stairway and Tower Ladder 1’s crew forced open the apartment door. Engine 2’s crew immediately started to knock down fire and Tower 1’s crew entered the apartment to search for the victim. While the ladder company searched the front section of the apartment, Firefighter Acosta (Engine 2) located the occupant in a rear bedroom and dragged her out of the apartment into the stairway.

“The victim was removed from the building and transported to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston where she was treated for burns and smoke inhalation,” read a CFD statement. “Firefighter Acosta’s actions without doubt saved the life of Ms. Kathleen Griffin.”

Other honorees are as follows:

  • Firefighter Janine Romano

On the afternoon of November 22, 2014, three-alarms were quickly struck for a fast moving house fire at 120 Clark Ave. While interior crews struggled to advance hose lines into the structure, the crew of Tower Ladder 1 arrived on scene and was ordered to vent the roof. The structure was a large 2 ½ story Victorian style home with a gable roof. Tower Ladder 1’s crew operated from the platform and had just completed opening up the hole on the gable roof. The Captain had stepped off the platform to open up the last section of roofing and was returning to the platform when he lost his footing causing him to slide down the roof. Firefighter Romano saw the Captain sliding and reached from the platform, grabbing him as he clung to the underside of the aerial platform and assisted him back to the aerial platform.

  • Firefighter David Bishop and Firefighter Bryan Bermudez

On the morning of August 9, 2014, a report was received at the Chelsea Emergency Communication center of a distraught male who had jumped off of the Tobin Bridge and was caught in the construction netting below. Engine 2 and Tower Ladder 1 were first fire crews to arrive on scene and were directed by construction workers to the injured victim who was below the structure of the bridge on a safety net installed for construction work that was being performed. The victim was trying to get to the edge of the safety net but was being restrained by Chelsea Police Officer Paul McCarthy. McCarthy received a state award for bravery in September for his actions. Firefighters Bishop and Bermudez climbed down onto the safety netting using a portable ladder and started to treat the male victim who had several broken bones and was bleeding profusely. A Stokes Basket was lowered from above and the patient was packaged by both firefighters. Boston Fire Units had arrived on scene and assisted the crews of Engine 2 and Tower 1 who were setting up for a hauling operation. The patient was lifted back to the lower level of the bridge and transported to the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston by ambulance.

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