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Town’s first woman jake graduates from the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy

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Advocate staff report


Rachael Patrizzi, who became the town’s first woman firefighter in August of 2022, was among the 24 recruits who graduated from the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy last Friday (Feb. 2).

Patrizzi’s colleagues offered their congratulations on the Saugus Firefighters Local 1003 Facebook page with this post: “Congratulations to Saugus FFOP Rachael Patrizzi on her graduation from the Mass Fire Academy today.

“Rachael is continuing the tradition of public service in her family and following in the footsteps of her father, Saugus Police Officer Jim Donovan (Ret.), her brother former Saugus FF & current Boston FF James Donovan and her husband Revere Police officer Guido Patrizzi.”

Patrizzi, 29, of Beverly, is a Saugus High School 2013 graduate and was an outstanding student-athlete who ran track and field.

“I feel proud becoming the first female firefighter,” Patrizzi said in an August 2022 interview during her first week on the job.

“Having the opportunity to represent the town is an honor,” she said.

Patrizzi is a personal trainer and competes in CrossFit competitions, adding that it prepares her for the physical demands of the job.

Firefighting blood runs through several generations of her family. Her brother, James Donovan, of Boston, is a former Saugus firefighter who worked for the town for seven years before going to work for the Boston Fire Department. Patrizzi’s father – James Donovan – worked for the Saugus Police Department for 32 years, retiring as a decorated detective on Feb. 5, 2022, the same day his son James resigned to accept a job with the Boston Fire Department. Detective Donovan worked briefly for the Saugus Fire Department as a temporary firefighter. But there were budget cuts in the town and the funding for the Fire Department. Several months later, the town received funding for police officers, and he took both tests and applied to the Police Department. He got hired and spent a long career as a Saugus police officer. Patrizzi’s great-grandfather – the late Edwin “Bucker” Holmes – was a “Person of the Year Award” recipient at the 1996 Founders Day and also a member of the Volunteer Saugus Fire Department.

She said she drew her inspiration from growing up in a civil service family. Patrizzi earned a degree from Middlesex Community College and worked as a phlebotomist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

State Fire Marshal Jon M. Davine and Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Director Eric Littmann last Friday announced the graduation of 24 firefighters from the 50-day Career Recruit Firefighting Training Program. “Massachusetts firefighters are on the frontlines protecting their communities every day, and today’s graduates are needed now more than ever,” State Fire Marshal Davine said during a ceremony at the Department of Fire Services’ campus in Bridgewater.

“The hundreds of hours of foundational training they’ve received will provide them with the physical, mental, and technical skills to perform their jobs effectively and safely,” he said.

Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Director Eric Littmann said the academy’s instructors draw on decades of experience in the fire service to train the new recruits.  “Through consistent classroom instruction and practical exercises, today’s graduates have developed the tools they’ll need to work seamlessly with veteran firefighters in their home departments and in neighboring communities as mutual aid,” Littmann said.

The graduating firefighters of Class #BW28 represent the fire departments of Brewster, Dennis, Duxbury, Easton, Hingham, Mashpee, North Attleboro, Reading, Saugus, Truro, Walpole, Wellfleet, Westborough and Yarmouth.

The intensive, 10-week program involved classroom instruction, physical fitness training, firefighter skills training and live firefighting practice. To graduate, students must demonstrate proficiency in life safety, search and rescue, ladder operations, water supply, pump operation, and fire attack. Fire attack operations range from mailbox fires to multiple-floor or multiple-room structural fires. Upon successful completion of the Career Recruit Program, all students have met the national standards of NFPA 1001, Standard for Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications, and are certified to the levels of Firefighter I/II and Hazardous Materials First Responder Operations by the Massachusetts Fire Training Council, which is accredited by the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications.

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