National salute for late Pittsfield firefighter


PITTSFIELD -- A city fireman, who died last year of an infection contracted in the line of duty 33 years before, will be among the dozens of fallen firefighters from across the country honored in a national ceremony next month.

Thomas "Todd" Lange is among the 80 firefighters last year -- four others from Massachusetts -- who died as a result of being injured on the job. They will be remembered during the annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service on Oct. 7 at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md., just south of Gettysburg, Pa.

Lange's name, along with the others, will be engraved on a monument to fallen firefighters, and their families will each receive an American flag that has flown over the U.S. Capitol, according to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

Lange's wife, Pamela, the couple's two grown sons Patrick and Todd, and other family members plan to attend the memorial service.

"It will be an honor to accept on [Todd's] behalf Š hard as it will be to do, emotionally," said Mrs. Lange.

"For Todd to be recognized on a national level is a great tribute to the work he did for the Pittsfield Fire Department," said Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski, who plans to attend the national memorial service.

Lange was also honored on a state level in December, when he was posthumously awarded the firefighter's Medal of Honor. Gov. Deval L. Patrick personally presented the medal to Lange's wife and sons during the state's annual Firefighter of the Year awards ceremony in Worcester.

Pamela Lange says her husband was a "simple man" who would have avoided the publicity of both events, but was always willing to help others in need.

In Pittsfield in February 1978, Lange performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on a man in cardiac arrest who then vomited into Lange's mouth. The man was a known hepatitis carrier, but protective training that would have prevented the incident was not commonplace in the 1970s.

Nearly 20 years later, a fatigued Lange received a Hepatitis C diagnosis. In order to have time to receive treatments, he moved to the city's fire prevention bureau, from which he retired in 2006 on medical disability. On May 20, 2011, he passed away at age 60.

To reach Dick Lindsay:,
or (413) 496-6233.


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