Police Officers & Firefighters 2020 News Round-Up
Massachusetts police officers and firefighters braved a challenging year to bring joy and promise to communities throughout the Commonwealth. From virtual birthday parades to graduating rookie firefighters, these professionals did their job so well, history was made!
Expansive educational programs on fire safety are paying off. For the first time in Massachusetts state history, no children died in fires in Massachusetts, according to records dating to the 1940s. The Department of Fire Services credits the ongoing efforts of firefighters and teachers to educate children on how to save themselves in a fire. The Student Awareness of Fire Education Program (S.A.F.E), now in its 26th year, empowers children through in-school visits by firefighters and field trips to firehouses. The schoolchildren learn key safety information including maintaining smoke alarms and practicing home fire drills. Saugus Fire Chief Michael C. Newbury, president of the Fire Chiefs’ Association of Massachusetts, said due to the educational outreach, “We find fewer children hiding under beds or in closets because they know how to use their home escape plan.”
In April, Massachusetts police officers and firefighters found a creative way to brighten the “blah” days of the early COVID-19 lockdown. With birthday parties cancelled, police officers and firefighters started revving up their engines and slow-driving through neighborhoods to bring joy to children on their big day.
Among the lucky to enjoy a police parade….
- Police Chief Craig Lundgren organized Athol’s first birthday parade mid-March and averaged four to eight per week through April. With horns honking and sirens blaring, the mini parades quickly became community events, with some police officers and firefighters attending two to three parades per day.
- In Wilmington, Mass., officers took part in 50 parades, said its police, Chief Joseph Desmond.
- On April 14, 2020, Worcester police and firefighters upped the ante and took to the streets for health care workers. Dozens of police cruisers and fire engines paraded around the campuses of Saint Vincent Hospital and the UMass Memorial Medical Center. With lights ablaze, horns held hard, and sirens wailing, police and fire units offered a socially distanced thank-you to the hardworking healthcare workers, some of whom stopped to wave and celebrate the special moment.
By May, though, parades by these first responders began shutting down as the city and state opened up. Soon, instead of handing out balloons to kids sheltering in place, these officers were back to keeping all of us safe.
The Massachusetts Firefighting Academy held a joint commencement exercise on September 11, 2020, to recognize 42 recruits graduating from three academy classes, while remembering those who gave their lives in the line of duty 19 years earlier. Although the graduates are off to start their careers, it is fitting to honor the firefighters who died responding to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, explained State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey. Among the 412 emergency workers who gave their lives that day, 343 were firefighters.
In 2020, we lost four Massachusetts police officers who died serving their communities. We mourn their loss and are grateful for their service and ultimate sacrifice. These fallen heroes are Massachusetts State Trooper Thomas William Devlin, Rutland Police Detective John D. Songy, Boston Police Officer Jose Fontanez, and Taunton Police Patrolman John Borges.
The Hundred Club — Serving the Community
At The Hundred Club of Mass., Inc. we care for those who care for us. When these everyday people-turned-heroes lose their lives in the line of duty, we are here for their families. We have helped beneficiary families since 1959, providing for the families of fallen police officers and firefighters. When a police officer or firefighter dies, in many cases their paycheck and insurance immediately stop and there is a gap between then and where their benefits begin, which is where the Hundred Club steps in. Your generosity provides immediate support to the families of these everyday fallen heroes rely upon to pay for their rent, groceries, and other bills. Help us continue the tradition of caring for those who care for us, donate to the Survivor’s Fund: https://100clubmass.org/donate/