Rochester firefighters honored with statewide service award

Dec 2, 2019

ROCHESTER — Two firefighters got a little hometown recognition after getting an award from Governor Baker last Tuesday for their community service work.

Andrew Weigel and Jessica Vinjerud were awarded the Norman Knight Award for Excellence in Community Service for their work in starting the Southern New England Brotherhood Ride.

The two appeared at the Dec. 2 Rochester Board of Selectmen meeting to receive congratulations.

Their chapter of the national group is active in Masachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut and has held two rides to honor 34 people across the three states. Participants raise money and pedal hundreds of miles across all three states.

Riders bring air mattresses and request breakfasts from hosts to keep costs low and donate the maximum amount of money to the families of fallen first responders.

To ensure families of first responders that their loved ones are not forgotten, Vinjerud and Weigel intentionally stagger the events to stretch out over years. They do a ride for first responders that have passed after a year, and present families with funds after two years.

“Every year there is someone to honor. And people say ‘we will never forget.’ But those words get forgotten in everyday life,” Weigel said, at the meeting.

He called the award “quite an honor” to receive.

Last year, five tri-town firefighters from across the tri-town won the Knight award for founding The MMR Hose Company, Explorer Post 343 to educate young people interested in being firefighters. They include Firefighter Joshua Fardy of Marion, Lieutenant Justin Dubois and Lieutenant Ross Macedo of Mattapoisett and Captain Jeff Eldridge and Firefighter Tracy Eldridge of Rochester.