The Rev. Peter Gregory blesses the engine as part of the dedication ceremony.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — After 28 years on the Fire Department, Deputy Chief Michael Polidoro had to retire after being diagnosed with ALS.
He had been a key member of leadership in the department and was viewed as a mentor by most. While he won't jump into the engine when a call comes in, Polidoro's legacy will still respond.
On Monday morning, the Fire Department dedicated Engine 6 to Polidoro and gold lettering now reads "Poly's Pride" above the windshield.
"We felt this was truly fitting to name this truck after somebody who shows such dedication to this department. He's been an inspiration to many of us, a mentor to many of us, and we are very appreciative of everything that he's done throughout his career," Chief Robert Czerwinski said.
Polidoro has had his fingerprints all over this engine -- from working on the design, to developing evaluation criteria, going to build and approval meetings, and when it was delivered in April 2016, training the firefighters on it.
"When Engine 6 rolls out, Poly's Pride will forever be the symbol of what you have left for all of us here in the city of Pittsfield. I am exceedingly grateful," said Mayor Linda Tyer.
Despite battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurodegenerative condition often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, and retiring two years ago, Polidoro still remains active with the department. He's always willing to lend a hand with anything the department needs. And the members of the department are there for him, too.
"I miss it. But the camaraderie and brotherhood that is maintained with them keeping in touch with me and helping me out throughout my little battle that I'm fighting have been amazing," Polidoro told a large gathering of current and former firefighters with whom he worked.
"It is exactly what I expect from the brotherhood that we have. I only hope I can return it in some way to you folks because I love all of you."
Polidoro was also joined by his family and his son Jason made a trip back from California for the ceremony. Jason Polidoro told the crowd that when he moved, he was given the advice to avoid meeting the "heroes" that he idolized because it would likely lead to disappointment. That advice was easy to follow, he said.
Polidoro was very involved in the procurement of the fire engine.
"It was really easy for me because I have already met my hero. I grew up with him," Jason Polidoro said of his father, which brought tears to the elder Polidoro's eyes.
The dedication had been two years in the making after Polidoro opted not to have a retirement party. Members of the department felt they needed to do something to recognize him.
Capts. Mitch Keller and Neil Myers approached Czerwinski with the idea of naming the engine after Polidoro a few months ago and there was no hesitation. The department organized the ceremony and got the truck lettered as a surprise.
"This has been a very emotional moment in my life, seeing all of the folks that I had the opportunity to work with and my family getting together," Michael Polidoro said.
The Rev. Peter Gregory, who is the department's chaplain, blessed the engine. He said he had known Polidoro personally and holds him in high esteem.
"You life is and continues to be giving much meaning, not only to you but to many of us that you have inspired," Gregory said.
The ceremony featured Tyer and Czerwinski both presenting Polidoro with certificates of appreciation for his work in the department. Czerwinski said his accomplishments were so numerous that "nobody else will come close to what he's done."
"I am in awe of the contributions you have made to this department and this community," Tyer said.
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