Four Nashua officers recognized for helping firefighters save elderly womanBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
July 16. 2018 9:49PM
NASHUA — Four city police officers are being recognized for their heroic efforts that helped firefighters save an elderly woman from a burning home earlier this year.
Officers Scott Ciszek, Alex Gangi, Jason Reinold and Colin Flanagan of the Nashua Police Department recently received Lifesaving with Valor awards from Police Chief Andrew Lavoie.
“A Lifesaving with Valor award is granted to officers or civilian employees who, with total disregard for their personal safety, save or attempt to save the life of another,” Lavoie said in a statement.
During the morning of Jan. 7, Ciszek was on patrol when he noticed smoke at 93 Lock St. One resident had already escaped the blaze and notified police that there was still an elderly woman inside.
According to a news release, Ciszek, who has been with the department for 15 years, entered the house but encountered fire and was forced to leave.
Once Gangi was on the scene, the two of them were able to force open the front door of the residence. Reinold and Flanagan joined the other two officers and they all entered the building in search of the trapped woman, Norma “Connie” Berube, 85.
“ … The four began to crawl on the floor in search of the elderly female,” Lavoie said in a statement. “The smoke became so thick and heavy that they had to vacate the residence.”
However, once members of Nashua Fire Rescue were on the scene, the four police officers were able to relay vital information to firefighters that helped fire crews locate Berube inside, according to the news release.
City firefighters then worked together to carry Berube safely out of the burning building through a first floor window. She was treated for smoke inhalation at Massachusetts General Hospital, and fully recovered from the incident.
It was later learned that Berube had re-entered the house in an effort to find her two dogs and three cats, at which time she became stuck in the building.
Hoarding conditions resulted in heavy fire load and made it difficult for emergency officials to access the house, fire officials said. Crews battled the two-alarm blaze for about 90 minutes, with 40 firefighters assisting at the scene; the house was destroyed in the blaze.
The fire, which was deemed accidental, was caused by a space heater.