On Friday January 20 at 6:55 a.m., the Suffield Fire Department responded to a structure fire on Boston Neck Road. At that time Firefighter Colby Tyler was just completing his shift and Lt. Kevin Seger was reporting for his shift along with his son, Cadet Justin Seger. They responded with Engine 1 from the center station. Arriving on scene at approximately 7 a.m., Lieutenant Seger assumed command of the incident and reported heavy black smoke showing from the rear of the structure. He immediately requested mutual aid from the Windsor Locks and Enfield Fire Departments to supplement the resources responding from the other Suffield fire stations. While Lieutenant Seger began to plan the work necessary to address this emergency, Colby Tyler and Cadet Seger were deploying the attack line to combat the fire. Having responded to this location during a previous emergency call, Lieutenant Seger was familiar with the residence and with the occupant’s limited mobility. He was also aware that the victim remained inside and went to the rear of the structure where, based on his experience, he expected the victim might be located. It was then that he heard the occupant calling for help. He was unable to see the victim as he peered in through the kitchen doorway. Aware the fire inside the structure was growing and that time was limited to make an effective rescue, Lieutenant Seger entered the rear door into the kitchen alone and without the protection of a hose line. He took great personal risk upon himself as a result of these compromises to his personal safety. Once inside the structure he was faced with dense black smoke, which was banked down to the floor resulting in zero visibility conditions. Lieutenant Seger crawled further into the structure where he located the victim and successfully removed him to the rear door as Colby Tyler was beginning to deploy the fire attack line through that same rear door. Colby Tyler and Lieutenant Seger then completed the removal of the victim to the rear porch. They performed an assessment of the victim who was suffering from respiratory distress and from burns to his feet. Seger and Tyler turned care of the victim over to ambulance personnel, and then directed their attention to extinguishing the fire. The victim was transported to St. Francis Hospital, and, later, as a result of his injuries was transferred to Bridgeport Hospital for specialized care. After treatment there, he was discharged to a local rehabilitation center to continue his recovery. The victim‘s life was saved as a result of Lieutenant Seger’s heroic and courageous actions which were facilitated by the support activities of Colby Tyler and Cadet Justin Seger.
On March 15, at a meeting of the Board of Selectmen, Lieutenant Seger was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest award that may be bestowed upon a firefighter for conduct in the line of duty. The actions of Colby Tyler and Cadet Seger reflected their integrity and devotion to duty on the fireground and facilitated Lieutenant Seger in saving the victim’s life. As a result of these actions, Colby Tyler and Cadet Seger were awarded Medals of Honorable Service.
In addition to the damage to the occupant’s home, certain irreplaceable memorabilia from his father’s service during World War II and other important personal property sustained significant damage as a result of the fire. Fire Department members were able to locate and secure these items after the fire was extinguished. They were able to clean and restore these cherished items and return them to the resident during his recuperation at a rehabilitation facility. The items included a United States flag, military insignia and military awards, dog tags, a Navy ring and a personal mobility scooter. The heat from the fire was so intense that it had melted the stone in the Navy ring. The stone has been replaced with an identical one. The Suffield Firefighters’ Association would like to express thanks to Marek Jewelers of Enfield who donated their services to clean and polish the ring and dog tags and assisted in replacing the stone.