By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
In recognition of his work with the department and leadership of the North Attleborough/Norton Dive Team, Shift Commander George McKinnon is the recipient of the Firefighter Christopher Cornetta Firefighter of the Year Award.
The award is named after Firefighter Chris Cornetta and given on the anniversary of his passing in March. Fire Chief Christopher Coleman said the award is given to an officer or firefighter in recognition of their performance. The department has another award in memory of Capt. Jack White, given to a member of EMS for exceptional patient care.
Coleman said that McKinnon was chosen for his leadership style and ability to adapt and overcome challenging situations. In addition, McKinnon’s work establishing the joint North Attleborough/Norton Dive Team was another reason he received the award.
“When I became chief I had wanted to reorganize the dive team,” said Coleman. “He (McKinnon) said he would do it, and it was up and running in less than a year.”
Coleman said the 11-member team is an essential service, as the department often responds to incidents at the town’s ponds.
McKinnon said creating the team involved a lot of work, including getting all the members certified. He recalled one incident when the team responded to a report of a capsized sailboat on Falls Pond. Fortunately, the boat’s owner was able to swim to shore.
“The biggest hurdle was getting the members certified and getting all that equipment,” said McKinnon. “I had a lot of help from Cumberland (Fire Department) with that.”
McKinnon said receiving the award is a humbling experience, that he’s known Cornetta a long time and considered him a close friend.
“He’s what every firefighter strives to be,” he said. “To get the award meant a lot for me.”