Mahar seventh grader lauded for quick thinking during chimney fire

Ralph C. Mahar Regional School student Joel Wilkey, center, stands with Orange Fire Chief James Young and his grandfather Richard Wilkey, whom he awakened the night a fire broke out at their Orange home.

Ralph C. Mahar Regional School student Joel Wilkey, center, stands with Orange Fire Chief James Young and his grandfather Richard Wilkey, whom he awakened the night a fire broke out at their Orange home. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Ralph C. Mahar Regional School student Joel Wilkey is honored for his quick thinking during a chimney fire by State Fire Marshal Jon Davine during an assembly at the school Friday morning. At left is Orange firefighter Meaghan Ahearn and Orange Fire Chief James Young.

Ralph C. Mahar Regional School student Joel Wilkey is honored for his quick thinking during a chimney fire by State Fire Marshal Jon Davine during an assembly at the school Friday morning. At left is Orange firefighter Meaghan Ahearn and Orange Fire Chief James Young. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Ralph C. Mahar Regional School student Joel Wilkey, third from left, is honored for his quick thinking during a chimney fire by town and state officials during an assembly at the school on Friday morning.

Ralph C. Mahar Regional School student Joel Wilkey, third from left, is honored for his quick thinking during a chimney fire by town and state officials during an assembly at the school on Friday morning. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Ralph C. Mahar Regional School student Joel Wilkey, center, stands with local and state fire personnel after an assembly in his honor at the school Friday morning.

Ralph C. Mahar Regional School student Joel Wilkey, center, stands with local and state fire personnel after an assembly in his honor at the school Friday morning. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer

Published: 02-12-2024 11:49 AM

ORANGE — Thanks to training he received through the SAFE (Student Awareness of Fire Education) program in the Orange school system, 12-year-old Joel Wilkey knew just what to do when he awoke to the sound of a smoke detector going off on Dec. 11, 2023.

Joel woke his grandfather, Richard Wilkey, and the two of them were able to get out safely and call 911 as smoke filled the house. Due to Joel’s quick actions and firefighters’ response, the chimney fire was extinguished with minimal damage to their home at 64 Eagleville Road.

On Friday, the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School student was honored with a Young Hero Award from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services by State Fire Marshal Jon Davine during an assembly in the school auditorium.

Members of the Orange Fire Department were on hand to laud the seventh grader, along with Selectboard members Tom Smith and Andrew Smith and Orange Town Administrator Matt Fortier. State Rep. Susannah Whipps, I-Athol, was also in attendance and gave Joel a citation from the state Legislature for his actions.

Reach Paul Franz at pfranz@recorder.com or 413-930-4128.

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