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Bangor firefighter injured battling high school blaze gets award

BDN File | BDN
BDN File | BDN
Bangor firefighter John York (left) sits with his wife, Laura York, after a press conference at the Bangor Central Fire Station, Feb. 24, 2015.
By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff
Updated:

BANGOR, Maine — A Bangor firefighter who was injured while battling a fire in 2015 at John Bapst Memorial High School has received national recognition from an insurance company for his efforts.

Firefighter John York has been awarded a Liberty Mutual Firemark Award, presented annually to recognize American firefighters “who best represent their communities through courageous valor and who best demonstrate the firefighter’s selfless spirit,” according to Liberty Mutual.

On Feb. 18, 2015, York was among the firefighters from Bangor and several surrounding communities called to the historic high school to douse a fire that had broken out in the roof. A maintenance worker using a propane torch to melt ice buildup accidentally started the fire.

As a group of firefighters on the balcony inside the school’s auditorium worked, a section of the ceiling collapsed on top of York. He suffered injuries to his neck and wrist, and his fellow firefighters pulled him out of the rubble and took him to a waiting ambulance.

“My brothers and sisters were able to get me to my feet, I was dazed and confused,” York said of his close call. “I accept this award on behalf of the men and women of the Bangor Fire Department.”

York returned to work about a month later.

As an award winner, York will be among the American firefighters in the running for the 2016 Liberty Mutual National Firemark Award, which will be granted to two winners: one for heroism, the other for community service and public education. Those winners will each receive a $10,000 Liberty Mutual grant for their departments and a trip to New York City for their families.

Charlie Longo, a Liberty Mutual agent and former Bangor city councilor, nominated York for the award, which he presented to the firefighter during the Bangor City Council’s meeting Monday night.

Representatives of Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin also thanked York and congratulated him on his award. Poliquin’s representative handed York a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol.

Maine Fire Marshal Joseph Thomas also attended the meeting to congratulate York, who he said was “in many ways, the perfect fireman” and a dedicated public servant.

“It’s about doing your job for the greater good, for the benefit of all,” Thomas said.

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.


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