A Boston firefighter from Quincy killed in a ladder truck crash, eight Randolph firefighters and one from Duxbury were recognized Thursday for risking their lives to save others.

A Boston firefighter from Quincy  killed in a ladder truck crash, eight Randolph firefighters and one from Duxbury were recognized Thursday for risking their lives to save others.


The highest award, the Medal of Honor, went posthumously to Boston Fire Lt. Kevin Kelley of Quincy, who was killed Jan. 9 when the brakes on his Ladder 26 failed, sending into a high rise building on Huntington Avenue.


Also recognized were eight Randolph firefighters who made multiple rescues from a burning apartment building on Reed Street Nov. 24, 2008 and Duxbury Firefighter/Paramedic John Montosi, who was able to rescue an elderly, disabled woman from a Pembroke house that was fully-involved in fire on Jan. 13.


In all, 67 firefighters from around the state were cited for heroism and community service during the 20th annual Firefighter of the Year Heroic Awards  at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester. The ceremony was part of the solemn observance of the 10th anniversary of the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire, which claimed the lives of six Worcester firefighters.


“This is a small part of never forgetting the Worcester 6,” said State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan.


Gov. Deval Patrick and Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, a former Worcester mayor, presented the awards.


Patrick praised firefighters as men and women of action.


“Our gratitude isn’t limited to one day or one occasion,” he said.


The governor also commended the families of firefighters, who share in the anxieties and sacrifices of their loved ones.


Kelley’s award was presented to his widow, Gloria, and two of their three daughters.  They hugged the three other firefighters who were on Ladder 26 that day, who also received awards.


Firefighter Robert O’Neill, who steered the truck away from pedestrians and a day care center, received the Medal of Valor.  Firefighters David Blaides and Amos Monteiro received Meritorious Conduct Awards for coming to the aid of their fellow firefighters despite their own injuries.


The Randolph firefighters rescued numerous people, some over ladders, from a late night arson fire.  Three of the people rescued were severely burned, but all survived.  That included the man charged with setting the fire in a domestic dispute, Mikelange St. Paul.


“The guys did a nice job,” said Randolph Deputy Fire Chief Daniel Kreckler, who supervised the rescue.  “Everything went as it should, everything fell into place.  The guys worked hard. My hat’s off to them.”


The other members of the group are Fire Capt. Paul Lyons; Fire Lts. Thomas LaBelle and Michael McCarthy; and Firefighters William Brewer, Kevin Donovan, Joseph Messia, and Richard Potter.


Selectman and Town Council President-elect William Alexopoulos, who attended the ceremony, said the group will be recognized at an upcoming meeting.


“We’re very proud of the great job the members of the Randolph Fire Department do day in and day out,” he said.


Montosi was off-duty when he saw smoke and followed it to the fire at a Valley Street home.


“Under conditions of fast-moving fire and heavy smoke and without personal protective clothing, he was able to break a window and remove a trapped elderly woman” through a first-floor window, said Undersecretary of Public Safety and Security Kurt Schwartz. “Firefighter Montosi further assisted Pembroke firefighters with patient care including transporting the woman to the hospital.”


Montosi received the Medal of Valor.


After the ceremony,  Montosi said the rescue was something he would do on or off duty.


“You see a fire and do what you can to help,” said Montosi, who is in his fourth year on the department.  “I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time.”


The fire marshal’s Excellence in Leadership Award was presented to the late U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy and was accepted by his widow, Victoria Kennedy.


The Patriot Ledger