Awards acclaiming acts of courage, community service and heroism by Massachusetts firefighters were presented at the 32nd Annual Firefighter of the Year ceremony, and firefighters from New Bedford and Dartmouth were among those honored.

Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and other dignitaries to individual and collective firefighters from across the state for their acts that go above and beyond the call of duty.

"They made a save," said Dartmouth Chief Peter Andrade, about Captain Ryan Cabral and Lieutenant Ryan Snell of Dartmouth Fire District No 1. As flames crackled through a home at 673 Tucker Road in the early morning hours of a bitterly cold December, these two officers entered the home, which was fully involved with flames, and saved the life of an elderly woman who was unable to escape.

"Making saves are far and few between, so when one happens, it's special and rewarding," said Andrade.

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New Bedford Fire Chief Scott Kruger described the Sunday morning 911 calls from March 21, 2021, about a house a blaze at 303 County Street with people trapped inside.

"Engine 6 and Ladder 3 arrived in minutes to rescue the tenants from the burning building, especially a gentleman who was about to jump out the window," Kruger noted.

It wasn't easy for the firefighter who had climbed a ground ladder and was trying to rescue the man while his own safety was in peril hanging on. This fire wasn't only about saving people, but also about coming to the aid of animals.

"The one thing about the 911 calls is you hear about 60 cats fearfully meowing in the background. This took a huge team effort by a lot of people. After transporting the injured to the hospital, everyone returned and pitched in to rescue all the cats. All the members, under the command of Chief Dan Duran, did what they were trained for," said Kruger, who called it a team effort to save lives, property and pets.

Firefighter of the Year 2021
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Receiving meritorious conduct citations for their bravery were: Captain Kurt Houghton, Firefighter Eric Britto, Firefighter Andrew Coderre, and Firefighter Manuel Mota from Engine 6 and Lt. Louis Miranda, Firefighter Kenneth Letourneau and Firefighter Darien Jacintho from Ladder 3. Firefighter Paul Medeiros received the Medal of Valor for his actions that day. Firefighter Bryce Fortes of Ladder 1 received the Norman Knight Award for Community Service for his numerous community service endeavors.

Firefighter of the Year 2021
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Dartmouth Deputy Fire Chief Jake Bettencourt coordinated the radio event. Miller beer saluted all the firefighters with a complimentary gift card to a local restaurant.

"The one thing the gentlemen didn't tell you is they are both paramedics who save lives on a continual basis," he said. "All of them led the charge during the height of the COVID crisis, and all these gentlemen are a testament to both our departments about the type of people we have. It's our honor to serve them."

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