WARWICK, RI — The hot wieners Deputy Fire Chief Michael Mernick planned to eat Sunday Oct. 15 went cold when he stopped to help rescue a family from a three-alarm Goddard Street house fire in Providence, so Mayor Frank Picozzi treated him to some for lunch Tuesday at WFD Headquarters, 111 Veterans Memorial Drive.
Picozzi presented a citation to Mernick along with the hot lunch during a surprise ceremony inside. Mike, battalion commander of WFD’s C-Platoon, and deputy chief of training, has served with the Warwick Fire Department for 28 years.
According to a report from Turnto10.com, Mernick helped rescue two children and their mother from the third story of the apartment building that night. Tuesday, Mike’s wife, Tara, said the two were headed home from a show when they decided to stop for hot weiners, or, as Mike calls them, gaggahs, from a place in Providence, Baba’s Original NY System Hot Weiners on Smith Street.
As they drove home, they smelled smoke, and Mike asked Tara to pull over. She parked, and Mike got out to check out what turned out to be the building fire. People were screaming about children on the third floor. Mike checked the building, identified himself as a firefighter, and led two police officers into the building and up the stairwell. He found the mother and two children on the third floor, handed the kids to the officers, checked the rest of the floor, then cleared the second floor, and got out. When he exited, the police told him everyone had been accounted for.
When Mike and Tara got home, Tara said, she had a few weiners, but Mike never got to them before their kids polished them off. Mayor Picozzi made up for that with the help of Mike Penta from Gel’s Kitchen, who supplied a tray of hot weiners and coffee milk for Mike, Tara, Mayor Picozzi, and a small gathering of WFD leadership. The room was filled with an overpowering smell of onions, mustard and meat sauce.
“Mike, we’re so proud of you,” said Picozzi while presenting him with a citation honoring his actions saving the mother and children. “I mean, your instincts took over, your training took over. You never gave it a thought, as all our firefighters would do.”
“It’s certainly an honor to serve such a great city, and to work with such great teammates, the best on the planet,” Mike said, “I’m proud to be here today. I’m glad everybody’s safe.
“This is not a surprise at all,” said WFD Chief Peter McMichael, given his long, valued service.
“Thank you, Chief. We have Warwick Firefighters doing exceptional things everywhere, every day,” Mernick said.
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