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Pittsfield officer recognized for saving life in March fire

  • Pittsfield police Chief Joe Collins (left) presents Sgt. Joe DiGeorge with the Silver Star for Bravery and the Life Saving pin Tuesday. DiGeorge rescued two people from a burning trailer in March. Nick Stoico / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 1/9/2019 3:52:10 PM

Pittsfield police Sgt. Joseph DiGeorge was out on patrol last March when a call came in reporting a mobile home fire on Thompson Road.

It only took a few minutes before DiGeorge reached the scene and found the home totally engulfed in flames. He heard the sounds of ammunition popping and crackling within the home as he got closer.

DiGeorge had been to this home before and knew two people lived there. He made his way around as the home burned and found the two occupants had escaped to the back deck.

One man, who struggled to walk, was trying to get back into the home to retrieve some items. DiGeorge ran through the snow and up to the home’s rear entrance, where he pulled the man away and carried him to the road where the fire’s heat was not as intense.

On Tuesday, Pittsfield’s select board recognized DiGeorge with a letter of commendation. Police Chief Joseph Collins read the commendation and awarded DiGeorge with the Silver Star for Bravery and the Life Saving Award.

“That’s just a rare situation when you are going to a fully involved house like that,” Collins said.

Had the man made it back inside, DiGeorge was worried he may have either been consumed by the flames or injured by the rifle and pistol ammunition exploding inside.

“Who knows when a window or door could have blown out,” he said. “It was a mobile home, and those go up very quickly. Getting them out of there was a key aspect.”

The recognition at Tuesday’s meeting came after several months of growth in the department. Last spring, the department was down to two officers, one full-time and one part-time. The town hired Collins in June as an officer and recruiter, and later offered him the part-time role as chief in August.

As of Tuesday, Collins said the departments has reloaded its roster and has one full-time position he is still looking to fill. He introduced the select board to his latest hire on Tuesday, Justin Worthley, who comes from the Rochester Police Department. Another recruit began their 16-month course at the police academy this week.

Collins hopes DiGeorge’s work in the March fire serves as an example to the department new and younger officers.

“You’ve got to be ready for anything, and Sgt. DiGeorge is,” Collins said. “He did a great job in this incident and saved a life because of it.”

Select board chairman Jim Allard said his only regret is that it took almost a year to recognize DiGeorge formally.

“I wish you had it the next day and not 10 months later,” he said. “Sometimes recognition takes a while to percolate to the top.”

(Nick Stoico can be reached at 369-3321.)

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