At Tuesday evening's Stamford Fire & Rescue Department Recognition Ceremony, city and department officials took the time to honor some of the city's bravest for their actions over the previous year.
Firefighters recognized at the event included Firefighter of the Year Frank Docimo, Jr., the divers involved in saving two lives trapped under a boat in Long Island Sound and each and ever member who responded to the Christmas Day fire on Shippan Ave. and worked their hardest to save five lives ultimately lost to the blaze.
"I want to thank each and every one of the Stamford firefighters who work every day to keep us safe and congratulations for what you do," said Mayor Michael Pavia. "You're well trained and you're well able to respond to any emergency our city has and for that, our public is most grateful."
The focus of the evening was to highlight firefighters who had gone above and beyond the call of duty. For Docimo, his youthful exuberance and knowledge as a "skilled mechanic and electronics guy," made him a highlight nominated by four previous Firefighter of the Year recipients.
For Joseph Maida and William O'Connell, who were awarded Medals of Honor, it was their steadfast determination to pull two trapped occupants from an overturned boat through only a tiny cubbyhole exit in pitch black through thirty feet of debris. Darien police officer and rescue diver Dan Ehret was also honored at the event for his participation that evening in helping to save those live. New Rochelle firefighter and passenger on the boat Keith Morris was lost in the wreck.
"Firefighters are often the difference between life and death," said public safety director Ted Jankowski. "Today, we have the opportunity to honor the firefighters whose bravery and self-sacrifice has stood out."
Finally, every responding firefighter who fought the blaze at the Badger residence on Christmas morning was recognized for the difficulty they faced that day. It was a scene no firefighter ever wants to face, but the call was made that the building was compromised and the firefighters were forced to pull out of the building.
Stamford Fire Chief Antonio Conte tearfully recalled the scene, and the way the department as a whole had to struggle with the loss.
"That time, we lost," he said. "We've trained hard ever since. I hope it never happens again."
But, while Conte reflected on the support they received from their community and recognized people who had helped them work through their anguish, he said the evening was more about seeing how strong the department was having come out the other side.
"We have many American heroes tonight," Conte said. "The Stamford firefighters, your Stamford police department, your public safety director, all the members of the Stamford government that make Stamford the safest place and most pleasant to live."
Also at the ceremony, Former Glenbrook Fire Department Chief Frank Passero was awarded the 2012 Civic Leadership Award in recognition of commanding a team made up of volunteer and paid Stamford firefighter.
Additionally, it was announced a sizable contribution would be made to the Wounded Warrior Fund from members of the SPFFA in the name of Stamford Navy SEAL Brian Bill, Killed In Action in Afghanistan.