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Massena man receives north country’s Firefighter of Year honor

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POTSDAM — A Massena man has been named the north country’s Firefighter of the Year for rescuing three people from a motel fire on April 20, 2012.

Rick Rakoce was honored with the award Friday during a ceremony held by the Northern New York Volunteer Fireman’s Association at St. Mary’s Church, Potsdam, as part of the association’s annual convention.

Last year’s fire at the Hillside Motel, 15 Smith Road, Massena, caused three explosions but no casualties.

Three people jumped from the second floor and were caught by Mr. Rakoce.

Several Potsdam firefighters were also honored at the ceremony for their work helping people after the summer of 2012 windstorm that tore the roofs from buildings and caused a gas leak in downtown Potsdam.

The ceremony ended with a memorial service for the north country’s firefighters past and present who have lost their lives.

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