GREAT BARRINGTON -- Chief Charles Burger is pleased to announce that two Great Barrington firefighters from the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team earned a citation for Meritorious Conduct from Gov. Baker during the Firefighter of the Year Awards ceremony earlier this week.

Firefighters Justina Bona and Robert Gaughran were two of the 26 members on the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team to receive an award during a ceremony on Nov. 20. Gov. Baker recognized the team for their outstanding rescue and recovery attempt at Bash Bish Falls State Park over the summer.

“I am very proud of my firefighters for their well-deserved recognition," Chief Burger said. "They worked a long, hard and dangerous weekend to try to minimize and bring closure to a tragedy. Their technical knowledge, skill, and dedication are an asset to the community.”


The Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team at the Firefighter of the Year Awards ceremony. (Courtesy Photo)

The Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team, which is run by the Western Massachusetts Fire Chief’s Association, is comprised of firefighters from the four western Massachusetts counties.

Member firefighters are specially trained in rope, confined space, trench and collapse rescue, and are regularly called to assist at some of the most difficult and dangerous incidents. To make the team, members first receive extensive training and complete drills each month to remain active. Great Barrington has three firefighters on the team -- Gaughran, Bona and George Houghtli.

In July, a New York man fell into Bash Bish Falls and died. Recovery efforts brought rescuers from 13 local and state entities, including Firefighters Bona and Gaughran.

The multi-day effort included rigging multiple rope systems and rappelling down and under multiple falls to locate where the victim was lodged. However, efforts were eventually called off due to the dangerous terrain and location of the body.

(press release and article image sent to WSBS from the Great Barrington Fire Department for online/on-air use)

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