PEPPERELL — A “totally shocked” Thomas Shattuck, a 28-year Fire Department veteran, was named Pepperell Firefighter of the Year during the Fire Department’s annual awards banquet.
When the presentation was made, he was called to the front by his master-of-ceremonies brother, Deputy Chief Peter Shattuck.
Contrary to what might be an obvious conclusion, the deputy chief had not made the final selection, but he was concerned about perception.
“When my brother’s name was brought up, I thought I’d hear flak,” Peter Shattuck said.
His concern was answered with a murmur of “not true.”
“This is very difficult for me, but he’s his own man and I’m my own man. When I want things done, it’s ‘you do it,'” the deputy chief said.
“(Former fire chief) Wes Whittier put these words in my mouth,” Peter Shattuck said, “How can I give an award to someone when everyone gives all they can, whenever they can?”
He said the Board of Fire Engineers met 10 times regarding a selection and had received several letters of recommendation.
Quoting retired Fire Chief John Marriner, Shattuck noted Pepperell doesn’t have extraordinary structure fires as in a city, but, the deputy chief said, “We have a long-time firefighter who, without question, has done extraordinary things for others no one thought of doing.”
One such was suggesting and volunteering to lead the department’s participation in the annual Muscular Dystrophy fund-raiser two years ago.
“The town of Pepperell raised $5,000 in the first weekend! Five thousand!” Shattuck said.
“His family had a tragic loss this year (Paul and Daisy Tierney, Shattuck’s in-laws, lost their home in a fire). The chief (Toby Tyler) was at the station and took a truck. Chiefs normally don’t drive trucks, but as I said earlier, we’re weak (on manpower),” Shattuck continued.
“Tommy took the truck away from him, cutting the chief loose and forgetting it was his family’s home that was engulfed. Everyone did 100 percent,” Shattuck said, “but when you take on what he takes on to make the department and the town look good, that’s why he’s firefighter of the year.”
An emotional Tom Shattuck told his peers, “You do an awesome job. Better than I do. I want to thank Capt. Milt Blood, Lt. (Dana) Franzek and all the other captains and the board. This is a total shock.”
Interviewed later, he said, “There are so many firefighters who do a lot of things, such as Capt. Michael Blood. It’s hard because there are so many other deserving people.”
Shattuck said he never sought a higher fire rank because as the operations chief for Shattuck (McClellan) Oil, he works seven days a week and only part-time for the Fire Department, when he can. Last weekend, for example, he worked 12 hours Saturday and eight on Sunday answering emergency calls.
“I’m starting my 29th year. Maybe they’re showing an old guy some respect,” he mused. “People don’t understand the oil business. I try to make as many fire calls as I can. If I stay at a fire scene, I’ve got to work nights to make up the extra work here,” he said. “The phone never stops. My wife puts up with me.”
Tom, 53, and Judy (Tierney) Shattuck have two children, Shaun, 22, a firefighter on Engine Company 1, and Courtney, 20, a college student. Tom has worked at the oil company for 35 years. He has four brothers, Mickey, of Arizona, Bobby, of Mt. Vernon, N.H., Carl (former deputy fire chief), and Peter.
Shattuck is very proud of the $5,044 the department raised for Jerry’s Kids last year.
“I wanted one dollar more this year over Columbus Day weekend but (kept it) to one day when the oil crisis hit. We raised $4,449.98. This town is great. I felt that in tough times one day is enough. We have so many fund-raisers we didn’t want to ask too much,” he said.
“Everyone on the department was out there,” he added. “I want to be sure there’s credit given. You can’t do it without help.”
Shattuck said he had been emotional at the award ceremony because of the things going through his mind — his mother-in-law losing her car when a tree crashed on top of it, his father-in-law’s recent double-bypass surgery, and the Tierney house fire.
“I was completely caught off guard, plus I can see 30 years coming and getting ready to leave. The guys showed me some respect,” he said. He is second in seniority in Company 1, behind Peter Quinn.
Shattuck holds in high regard “the captains I’ve had — retired chief Tom Tierney, retired Capt. Carl Shattuck, Deputy Chief Peter Shattuck, my current captain, Milt Blood and Lt. Dana Franzek. The knowledge they have and how they pass it on and their leadership is second to none,” he said.
“I love this Fire Department and the town because they’re such great supporters of it,” he said.
“I want to mention there are these two guys — (firefighters) Shaun (Shattuck) and Derek Franzek — and a lot of other young guys showing the desire to carry things forward. It’s like raising kids, you teach the best you can and you hope they take it with them when they leave,” Shattuck said.
“I feel I can do quite a bit where I am as a firefighter,” Shattuck said.
His peers completely agree. Several said after the banquet that the award is long overdue.
As firefighter Steven Symonds put it, “Tommy does everything for everyone.”