Media Archive

Milo Fire Department recieves 'Brotherhood Award'

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 38, September 17, 2003

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

Brotherhood Award

MILO Responding above and beyond the call of duty earned members of the Milo Fire Department special recognition at last weekend's convention of the Maine State Federation of Firefighters.

During the annual banquet on Sept. 13 at Madawaska, the Milo and Houlton fire department were honored with the Brotherhood Award, a newly-established citation designed to recognize departments who provide "outstanding support beyond the burn."

Steve DeWitt, a Milo native who works full-time at the Houlton department, established the award in memory of his 5-year-old, Logan DeWitt, who died last spring.

"This year's recipients are the Milo Fire Department and the Houlton Fire Department for all their love, support and caring given to us," said DeWitt. "And for making Logan 'one of theirs' for his five short years with us."

Milo Fire Chief David Preble said the honor which came with a $50 award was unexpected. He said Logan used to visit the fire department in Milo, when his parents Steve and Michele worked there.

Preble said the $50 will likely go toward framing a photo of Logan to hang in the fire department.

The Dewitts who moved from Milo in 1999, lost their only son to unknown medical causes on March 19 - an experience that has changed their lives completely.

I'm not the same person I was before this happened," said Dewitt. "My life was Logan ... We'd like to know why [he died] just to close the door on it a little more, but it's probably one of things where we'll never know "

Tests have ruled out the possibilities of e-coli-contaminated water which was affecting some water in the area at the time. SARS and heart failure have also been elimiated, he said.

In the wake of that tragedy that tragedy, the DeWitts received more 600 cards of sympathy, 50 bouquets and unbelieveable support from their fire department "family" - both in thier new hometown and the one they left behind.

Many of the Milo firefighters went to Houlton to visit the family and share their condolences.

There's nothing really out of the ordinary about what they did," explained DeWitt. "But it's amazing to us."

"It's something they would do for anybody," he added.

At the time of the emergency, a yard full of volunteer firefighters and EMTs came to offer their help and others, like members of the police department, emergency room staff, doctors, school staff, church 'friends and more, showed their support in many different ways.

"The big thing is ... we just don't know how to say, 'Thank you,'" he said.

Hopes are that the Brotherhood Award and its accompanying donation to local fire prevention will express some of what the couple is feeling sentiments they hope to keep alive by giving the award next
year to another deserving fire department.

"We're trying to do this to make it easier for other people and for us,"DeWitt said. "The goal for this is just for people to know how thankful we are."

Although the family has given back in other ways, like establishing a scholarship fund in Logan's memory and by getting involved in other children's projects, they chose to honor their local fire departments because of the joy Logan received by spending time with the firefighters.

"It was the attention and love, I guess, that they gave him [when he was there]," explained DeWitt. "The guys
were letting him dream of doing it. And it was the same way in Milo. I had always dreamed of [working with the fire department] and they allowed me to experience that."

DeWitt started his work with the Milo Fire Department as a junior firefighter in 1985, living there until he had a
chance to pursue his "dream job" as a fire / EMT swingman with the Houlton department.

"We thought of Houlton as the 'big city,'" he said. "But we came to realize that Houlton had just as many small-town values and ideals as a town [like Milo] with only one restaurant and no Wal-Mart."

Those values and ideals, still strong within local fire departments, are part of what DeWitt hopes to continue honoring in the future. "That's the brotherhood [of the fire departments]. I know that 100 percent," he said. "We're really excited about the award. Other departments that get these can really have something to show for their compassion and caring ... We realize that life goes on and we want to be there for everyone else."

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.