Athol Fire Dept. honors youngster for quick response

  • Eleven-year-old Maddison Rose Coburn of Athol, holding her Local Hero Award, takes a seat in the cab of an Athol fire engine. Maddison was honored for acting quickly to call in a fire at a building on silver Lake Street in September. Staff Photo/Greg Vine

  • Athol First Responders honored 11-year-old Maddison Rose Coburn of Athol with a Local Hero Award for calling in a report of a fire on Silver Lake Street in September. The call, said Fire Capt. Jamal Hamilton, minimized damage and may have prevented injuries to firefighters and the public. Left to right: Firefighter Ian Hogan, Police Officer Courtney Call, Capt. Hamilton, Maddison Rose Coburn, Fire Chief Joseph Guarnera, Firefighter Paco Carra and Capt. Kevin Kaczmarczyk. Staff Photo/Greg Vine

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 11/29/2020 2:14:43 PM
Modified: 11/29/2020 2:14:41 PM

ATHOL — About 10 weeks ago, an Athol mother and daughter were traveling along Silver Lake Street when the youngster, Maddison Rose Coburn, spotted something she felt needed immediate attention.

“On Sept. 19 of this year,” Capt. Jamal Hamilton explained, “we got a report of a structure fire. A passer-by in a vehicle saw smoke and flames coming from the second story of a building. We responded with our engine and our ladder; we had a mutual aid company at the scene as well.

“We made a forced entry into the apartment and discovered some machinery from some work being done there on fire. We were able to retrieve an extinguisher, rather than use our hose line, which can cause substantial property damage. So, we used the extinguisher to extinguish the fire.”

Hamilton said the quick response allowed firefighters to keep damage to the structure to a minimum. That response was made possible by a quick-thinking Athol Royalston Middle School sixth grader.

“The young lady who called it in,” said Hamilton, “was 11-year-old Maddison Rose Coburn. She was driving by with her mother when she noticed the flames and suggested she call. Her swift action was a heroic act to us.”

The captain said it’s important to honor those who help the department keep the community safe.

“A lot of what we do is public education,” he said. “My big goal is to keep our guys safe and keep the community safe by not having fires at all. But if there are fires, to think quickly and to report them so that we can keep small fires small and keep everybody safe in the long run.

“It really is a testament to public education and community involvement; to just make sure everybody’s aware and to hope they quickly react.”

Hamilton said Maddison immediately thought there was something odd about what she was seeing and “recommended to her mom that she call us.

“Her mom said, ‘If that’s what you think, let’s make the call. Better safe than sorry.’ And people were certainly safer that night because of her.”

As a result, Maddison Tuesday evening was presented with a Local Hero Award by the department.

During the presentation of a plaque honoring her quick thinking, Hamilton told Maddison, “If a fire really gets going, it’s a lot more dangerous for me and my fellow firefighters. So, the fact that you called early meant that we could get there and put the fire out quickly, before it got too big and caused a lot of damage. And somebody could have gotten seriously hurt.

So, for that, I want to say that you’re my hero.”

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