By Christopher Roberson
Fire Department Lt. James Alexander was not planning to attend the Rotary Club Luncheon on June 28; however, he decided to go after Fire Chief Mark Tetreault told him that he had been chosen as the department’s Officer of the Year.
“It’s quite an honor to be recognized by your peers for working hard,” said Alexander.
Alexander said he joined the Fire Department in 1974 as a “teenage volunteer.” “Back in the day, you could join the department when you were 16 years old,” he said.
Alexander also spoke about how firefighter safety has evolved during the past 44 years. He said that during the early years of his career, each fire engine would carry six firefighters and only two air packs. Therefore, he said, it was not uncommon for firefighters to “pretty much” hold their breath whenever they went into a burning building.
However, each fire engine is required to carry air packs as well as spares for every firefighter. “We know a lot more about smoke now,” said Alexander.
He also said the fire hoses have been redesigned and are now made of lightweight synthetic material for easier maneuverability. Alexander said another significant change was combining the Emergency Medical Services with the Fire Department.
Having been an officer for the past four years, Alexander said, he continues to enjoy the brotherhood of the Fire Department. “I’ve worked with a lot of phenomenal people over the years,” he said.
In addition, Alexander said it has always been important for him to help other people, particularly when they are in harm’s way. “I enjoy serving the public, the public service is wonderful,” he said.
Firefighter Jeffrey Fiorentino was also invited to the Rotary Luncheon to receive this year’s Firefighter of the Year Award.
He said he joined the department in 2010 as a part-time firefighter. After discovering his love for the job, Fiorentino became a full-time firefighter six years later.
“Being able to service the town that you grew up in and live in is an honor,” he said.
Like Alexander, Fiorentino also spoke about how the role of a firefighter has morphed in that he and his colleagues are trained to respond to an array of situations. “It’s more of everything else now, it’s not just fires,” he said.