PORTLAND – On a lunch break late last September, Tyron Calhoun witnessed something he probably will never forget.

He watched David Parker, 24, of Portland light himself on fire near the base of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow statue in Longfellow Square.

“At first I thought it was the circus or something,” Calhoun said.

When he realized what was happening, he said, “My heart started to rush, and I just ran over to help.”

Calhoun, 17, and his friend Montique Reddick tried to smother the blaze with a T-shirt before another nearby citizen ran to help with a fire extinguisher.

Calhoun and Reddick were recognized for their actions Saturday at the Portland Police Department’s annual awards breakfast. Both received a citizen award for their quick thinking, which authorities say saved the man’s life.

The ceremony, which was held at the Eastland Park Hotel, recognized many members of the Portland Police Department, as well as other local residents, for their contributions to public safety in the city.

For her work as a civilian within the department, Mary Norton was recognized as Civilian of the Year 2010. Norton has staffed the information desk of the Portland Police Department for 32 years, serving as a first point of contact for those entering the station.

More than 25 awards were distributed to law enforcement officials for going “above and beyond their call of duty,” said Police Chief James Craig.

It came as no surprise to the department that after Officer Kevin Haley received two commendations for merit and two commendatory letters and was part of three units receiving commendation, he was also named Officer of the Year for 2010.

“He is affectionately referred to as ‘the mayor of Portland,’” Craig said when presenting Haley with the award.

Haley was recognized for many things in the past year, but particular for his quick thinking in rescuing a woman who jumped from the Casco Bay Bridge last October. Chris Dobson, a local fisherman who assisted Haley in the rescue, was also recognized with a Citizen Award.

“(This is) not an easy job, and many times it is a thankless job,” Craig said at the end of Saturday’s ceremony.

Addressing both those honored with awards and the entire police force, the police chief said, “I just want to say thank you.”

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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