By Beth David, Editor
There was no angst, no fear, no intense urgency on 3/9/20, when the Fairhaven Selectboard recognized the heroic actions of five people who saved lives last month. There was only a profound sense of gratitude, some humor, and a lot of hugs.
There was plenty of urgency on 2/3 when Jackson’s Variety caught fire with 83-year-old Colin “Jack” Jackson, who cannot walk anymore, still in bed.
The five people, Earnest “Butch” Beauparland, Roberta Raymond, Ronald Rock, David Fall, and Anthony Cogswell managed to get Mr. Jackson and his daughter Tina out of the burning building. Mr. Jackson’s granddaughter Jaime also got out.
Mr. Jackson attended the ceremony in the Town Hall auditorium, along with family, friends, and neighbors. He told the Neighb News afterwards that he had no injuries from that day.
Fairhaven Fire Department Deputy Chief Todd Correia recapped the day’s events, from the first trace of smoke that the citizen-rescuers saw, to the time firefighters arrived.
It was about 7:30 a.m. when people started noticing the smoke. Mr. Beauparland entered the building first, followed by Mr. Rock.
Ms. Jackson was already upstairs, trying to get her father down the stairs. He managed to get out of bed, but they faltered at the doorway.
Then Mr. Beauparland and Mr. Rock found them.
The three were able to help Mr. Jackson down the stairs, seeing the flames behind them.
They were joined at different points in the journey by Dr. Fall, Mr. Cogswell and Ms. Raymond. The five good Samaritans, along with Ms. Jackson, managed to get Mr. Jackson over a chain link fence, as first responders arrived.
Selectboard chairperson Charles K. Murphy, Sr., read the citation that was given to all five rescuers, noting that all five people “acted selflessly to-gether” to get people out of the building.
“The brave citizens saved three lives on February 3, 2020, with their quick, selfless and courageous response,” reads the citation.
In a statement, the Fairhaven Fire Department said that several unidentified people also rendered assistance and called 911 to report that people might be trapped inside.
“The rescue of the occupants prior to arrival of the fire department played a pivotal role in preventing further injury or death of the occupants,” reads the statement. “The Fairhaven Fire/EMS department commends the selfless actions of these individuals in placing their lives in harm’s way to save others.”
Selectboard member Bob Espindola told them they were all “first responders now,” and praised them for their “remarkable bravery.”
Selectboard member Daniel Freitas said he was “awestruck” that people would risk their lives to save another.
“It’s what Fairhaven is all about, neighbors helping neighbors,” said Mr. Freitas.
Mr. Jackson’s daughter Colleen addressed the crowd briefly, reminding everyone that it was the baby monitor in her father’s room that alerted Tina, who was working in the store on the first floor, that something was wrong. The baby monitor just kept going off.
She said her sister would not have been able to get their father out on her own.
“I thank you very much, from the bottom of my heart,” she said.
After the reading of the citation, it was hugs all around, and some picture-taking.
Tina, who worked in the store every day, and her husband Phil Lawrence, who worked there at night, said they definitely miss the customers, although Tina admitted she did not miss the stress of running a business.
“I miss my night people,” said Mr. Lawrence.
For his part, Jack has a pretty good sense of humor about it, along with a healthy dose of gratitude.
“I didn’t get hurt at all,” said the 6’4″, 280-pound man.
He said he remembers his daughter calling him and telling him there was a fire and he had to get up.
He told her he couldn’t. He needed to get some pants on.
“I was bare-ass,” he said with a chuckle.
But then he saw the fire.
“It was coming, and it was coming fast,” said Mr. Jackson. “There was no time for pants.”
He said he went down the stairs head first, and learned there was no smoke close to the floor. He had no smoke inhalation, he said, although the others did.
“Every stair was clear of smoke,” he said. “I didn’t get smoke inhalation. I was the only one that didn’t.”
“But such is life,” said Mr. Jackson. “We’re lucky to be here. We take the good with the bad. That’s all we can do.”
He also noted that his 24-year-old nephew would normally be sleeping where the fire started, but he was not there that night.
You can watch the Selectboard meeting, including the recognition ceremony at https://livestream.com/fairhavenlive/events/7191980/videos/202762792 (link at https://www.fairhaventv.com) •••
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