Matthew Bainbridge is given his probationary firefighter shield from Capt. Neil Myers.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — On Tuesday, Matthew Bainbridge and Abigail Lemanski attended the state's 28th annual Firefighter of the Year Awards ceremony.
There were hundreds of firefighters from throughout the state honored for heroic efforts. And the medal of honor was given to posthumously to Watertown Firefighter Joseph A. Toscano.
They saw the heroism and they saw the risks.
The two were just Pittsfield Fire Department recruits on that day. The next afternoon though, their families pinned their new badges to their uniform and they became probationary firefighters in the department.
"Matt and Abigail got to go there and it is not something we usually get to take fresh people, new recruits to. It is not something we go to every year," Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said. "But I think it was kind of an eye-opener for them to see what types of heroic acts go on across the Commonwealth on an annual basis."
Czerwinski addressed the pair's families, fellow firefighters, and members of the City Council who had gathered at headquarters for a graduation ceremony. Bainbridge and Lemanski were appointed to the department in October and have now completed the five weeks of training. Notably, Lemanski is the department's first female firefighter.
"They received a lot of great training over that time. They had a lot of great meals at the fire station, learning some of the tricks and pranks that we do. But I think they are excited to be done with that and get on the floor and ride on the back of the truck and start a new career for the rest of their lives," Czerwinski said.
"This isn't a job. It is a career. You always have to keep learning and you always have to know what is coming next. The next call you go on could be something trivial or it could be something major so we always have to have people on their toes."
The chief urged them to continue learning about the profession. On Tuesday, two city firefighters were honored by the governor at the ceremony for a "great rescue and a great effort." But, the department has been on the other side as well with firefighters being killed in the line of duty.
"That's not something I want any of our families to go through. We've had line of duty deaths here and we really don't want to see it. We want to be on the other end, saving lives," Czerwinski said. "I hope they are safe every day."
Training Officer Capt. Neil Myers has been with them throughout the last five weeks and after he handed them their probationary firefighter helmet shields, he left them with a challenge.
"All of us here at the PFD challenge you ton continuously educate yourself and not become a statistic. Stay hungry, stay focused, listen to your partners on the job, watch, practice, and do your job. Work hard and pass it on to those who follow you," Meyers said.
"Remember where you are today and remember how hard you worked toward this career and remind yourself of this when you get mired down by distractions and the stress that frustrate all of us from time to time. Appreciate that you've earned a career where you have the opportunity to positively affect the outcome of someone else's worst day."
He told them to look to all of the veterans in the firehouse and learn from their experiences. And as their career progresses, pass it on to those who follow in their footsteps.
The short ceremony opened with a blessing from Fire Department Chaplain Peter Gregory and ended with the cutting of a cake.
Bainbridge and Lemanski are part of the third group of recruits to graduate this year. There are some 15 probationary firefighters currently working in the Department. The probationary title lasts a year before they start to move up the ranks.
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Berkshire Theatre Group to Present 'Godspell' Outdoors
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Theatre Group will produce "Godspell" this summer – the first musical in the United States to be approved by Actors' Equity Association in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The show will be presented outdoors in an open-air tent adjacent to The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, and is scheduled to run Aug. 6 through Sept. 4. Tickets will be available for purchase Tuesday, July 7, at noon.
"We could not bear the thought of a Berkshire summer without live theater to support our community, so we jumped through every hoop to create a safe way to make this happen," said BTG Board of Trustees Co-President Lee Perlman. "I hope our production gives hope to the tens of thousands of theater professionals who are on the sidelines this summer. Theater is unstoppable and will be back”
Artistic director and CEO Kate Maguire said "Godspell" got the green light after BTG established a strict protocol to protect the health and safety of the audience, the performers and others involved in the show.
"We have been working daily and in the true spirit of care and collaboration with Actors’ Equity Association for the past several weeks," she said. "Guided by Executive Director of Actors’ Equity Association Mary McColl and her extraordinary team, I have learned much about how to lead a theater in the new world. Our industry, which has been devastated by this global pandemic, will be served by their seriousness, data driven wisdom, and profound understanding of the need for artists to rebuild.
"I am so proud that Berkshire Theatre Group, in its 92nd season will be authorized and granted the responsibility to produce the musical 'Godspell.'”
After careful consideration with the local and state government, Mayor Linda Tyer of Pittsfield and Actors’ Equity Association, BTG relocated "Godspell" from its original site at The Fitzpatrick Main Stage in Stockbridge to outside under a tent at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield.
Their job is twofold focusing on concierge service and safety. The ambassadors are walking concierges. They are a welcoming, information sharing resource helping visitors and residents find parking, offering directions and wayfinding, and providing information on dining and shopping.
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