WORCESTER, Mass. /Massachusetts Newswire/ — Mass. Governor Deval Patrick on Wednesday joined Public Safety Secretary Mary Elizabeth Heffernan and State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan to honor firefighters from 32 Massachusetts communities for heroic acts of bravery during the 22nd annual “Firefighter of the Year” Awards ceremony. The ceremony was held at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester.

“On behalf of the Commonwealth, I want to thank our firefighters and their families for their sacrifices and support,” said Governor Patrick. “These individuals deserve our recognition every day for their leadership, bravery, courage and selflessness in the face of danger.”

“We value the hard work of all firefighters who serve our Commonwealth,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. “Today’s award ceremony is an opportunity to honor the heroic men and women who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect our communities.”

“It is important that the stories of the firefighters being honored here are told because their acts of bravery rise above the everyday heroics of the firefighting profession,” said Secretary Heffernan.

Governor Patrick and Secretary Heffernan presented 46 awards: the Norman Knight Award for Excellence in Community Service, which was awarded to a Bourne firefighter; 19 Individual Awards for Meritorious Conduct to firefighters from Braintree, Brockton, Wareham, Newton, Williamstown, Worcester and Watertown; six Group Awards for Meritorious Conduct to teams of firefighters from Brookline, Lynn, Middleton, Northbridge, Somerville and Stow; two Excellence in Leadership Awards to groups of firefighters from Norfolk and Saugus; 13 Medals of Valor to individual firefighters from Lowell, Somerville, West Bridgewater, Lynn and Middleton; and five Medals of Honor to individual firefighters from Rehoboth, Wareham, Salisbury and Pittsfield.

State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan presented 12 Fire Marshal’s Awards: one was awarded to V. Carlisle Smith, who was a member of the Board of Fire Prevention Regulations for over 55 years; nine were presented to tornado response teams from Agawam, Brimfield, Monson, Southbridge, Springfield, Sturbridge, Westfield, West Springfield and Wilbraham; and two were awarded to tornado recovery community service teams from Norfolk and Chelmsford.

“This past year the Commonwealth experienced several extreme natural disasters,” said Fire Marshal Coan. “Each and every time our firefighters heroically stepped to the plate to rescue and protect their neighbors often while their own homes and families were affected.”