Norwell town leaders recognize police officer who saved sleeping family from burning home

Norwell town leaders recognize police officer who saved sleeping family from burning home
Norwell Police Officer Joe Esposito (left) rescued a family from their burning home on December 10 (right)

NORWELL, Mass. — Norwell town leaders recognized a police officer Wednesday for heroically rescuing a sleeping family of five from their burning house earlier this month.

Officer Joe Esposito was on a routine patrol just after midnight on December 10 when he noticed an unusual amount of steam or smoke pouring out the roof of a River Street home.

>>Norwell police officer alerts sleeping family to fire after noticing smoke, flames coming from home

Content Continues Below

Esposito went to investigate and saw flames coming from the attic space. He notified the fire department and started banging on the door of the home to wake up the family who was sleeping on the second floor.

“There was actually one child on a top bunk that was within two feet of what was a raging inferno and didn’t even know about it,” Norwell Fire Chief Jeff Simpson during a virtual board of selectmen meeting in which Esposito was present.

Esposito helped firefighters safely evacuate the family, including three children and a dog. No one was hurt.

Simpson said the fire appears to have started in the attic of the breezeway, spreading through the roof of the breezeway, up a side wall and into the attic of the main house. He said the smoke detectors didn’t sound because the fire was above them.

Simpson said Esposito is an experienced officer whose attentiveness and superior decision-making undoubtedly saved lives.

“If Officer Esposito just kept driving on his routine patrol, everything would be different today,” Simpson said. “The family wouldn’t have gotten out.”

Norwell Police Acting Chief Carol Brzuszek said the entire department is proud of Esposito.

“Good police work, good observation skills and some fate in there too – right place at the right time,” Brzuszek said. “We’re so grateful that beautiful family is alive today because of his heroism.”

Norwell Town Administrator Peter Morin said he’s going to nominate Esposito for a Trooper George L. Hanna Memorial Award for Bravery, the highest award the state can bestow on law enforcement officers.

“The people of Norwell should feel safer because of people like Joe Esposito,” Morin said. “This is excellence in law enforcement and public safety.”

Simpson also praised the work of his firefighters for saving the main house from being destroyed by the fire.

“They did what I would have expected them to do, what they’re trained to do,” Simpson said. “They all agree with me, Joe made their jobs a little bit easier and saved a family.”

“We need more people like Officer Esposito, Simpson added.

Simpson believes the fire may have started in the chimney, but he said the state fire marshal’s office will make the official determination on the cause.

Simpson reminds homeowners to have a professional clean and inspect their chimney every year.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services, there were 570 fire incidents involving chimneys, fireplaces, and woodstoves in 2019. These fires were responsible for one fire service death, three civilian injuries and two firefighter injuries. They resulted in $2 million in property losses.