On September 11, 2017 the Auburn Fire Rescue Department celebrated its 100th birthday. The department has been an organized department in the community when it was formed on September 11, 1917 when the town purchased its first piece of motorized fire equipment and appointed a department under the control of an Acting Fire Chief, Alfred Bennet who was the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen. The department operated for 5 years under that structure before the board appointed a permanent Chief, Ralph H. White on July 5, 1922.
This year, the department held a Firefighters Memorial Sunday on June 11th where they honored all of the past members of the department who are no longer with us. Deputy Chief Glenn Johnson read the roll of over 120 past members who have served the department in the past 100 years. Among the names on that list was retired Fire Chief Roger Belhumeur. Chief Belhumeur who served as the department’s first full-time firefighter and would then later go on to be appointed the Town’s first full-time Fire Chief passed away on May 22, 2016 from cancer that is considered to be job-related.
This past Saturday night, the department held an anniversary dinner in celebration of its 100 Years of Service to the community. In attendance were state and local elected officials, about two dozen past members of the department, residents of the community as well as current department members. There were approximately 120 guests in attendance. As part of the night’s activities the department also held its annual Awards & Recognition Ceremony. Employees were recognized for their years of service, including call Fire Captain Jeffrey Mitchell who celebrates 40 years with the department this year.
In addition to years of service awards, Auburn Fire Rescue Chief Stephen M. Coleman Jr. handed out three sets of Certificates of Appreciation, three separate Unit Citations, two Medals of Bravery and a Firefighter of the Year Award.
The Medal of Bravery was awarded to Captain Justin Brigham and Firefighter Scott Davis for their actions on the morning of January 2, 2017 during a structure fire at 604 Main St. in Oxford where those two members became lost and disoriented in an apartment they were searching for possible victims. The members called a Mayday and after several minutes were able to find a window, break through and jump to the roof of an attached hair salon below. Thirty seconds after the members escaped the apartment the room flashed over and became fully engulfed in flames.
The Firefighter of the Year Award went to Firefighter/Paramedic Scott Davis for his actions during that same fire and for outstanding efforts over the course of the year on emergency calls and in training. Last year FF Davis became a member of the CEMLEC SWAT Team as a Paramedic. Part of that commitment requires the Paramedics to attend the part time Police Academy so they can be sworn as a Special Police Officer. Firefighter Davis graduated from the Massachusetts Police Training Council Part Time Academy on June 21, 2017.
At the dinner on September 9th, Chief Coleman said there have been many technological advances over the past 100 years and the duties and role of a firefighter have changed dramatically. The one thing that has not changed Chief Coleman said is the steadfast commitment of the members of the Auburn Fire Rescue Department to provide outstanding service to the citizen’s they serve. “This department has been providing outstanding cutting edge service for the past 100 years and we plan on continuing and improving on that commitment over the next 100 years”.