Former Watertown Fire Chief Mario Orangio died overnight, and the Watertown Fire Department is preparing to honor their leader later this week.
News of Orangio’s passing spread over social media Tuesday morning.
Orangio officially stepped down as Fire Chief in October, but had been battling pancreatic cancer for months. He was 51 years old.
He grew up in Watertown and became a firefighter in 1989. Orangio was one of the youngest fire chiefs when he was appointed to lead the WFD in 2004 at the age of 37. He also served as president of the Fire Chief’s Association of Massachusetts in 2012 and was named Chair of the Massachusetts Fire Training Council in 2014.
Members of the Fire Department are planning a funeral for Orangio, said Deputy Fire Chief Tom McManus.
“He is definitely going to get a funeral with Fire Department honors,” McManus said.
A wake will be held at St. Patrick’s Church, at Chestnut and Main streets in Watertown Square, from 4-8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9. A funeral Mass will be held on Friday, Nov. 10 at 10 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Church.
Watertown Town Manager Michael Driscoll sent out the following statement about Orangio:
Mario Orangio started his fire service as a firefighter with the Watertown Fire Department in August, 1989. I had the privilege of appointing Mario to the position of Lieutenant in 1997, Captain in 2000 and to the position of Fire Chief in February 2004.
For 13 years in his position of Fire Chief, Mario provided leadership and served with dedication and professionalism for the Watertown Fire Department, Town Administration, elected officials, businesses and our community. Chief Orangio contributed substantially to the department’s mission and improved the quality of life for all of us who work and live in Watertown.
Mario was a true gentleman, a loyal friend, a devoted husband to his wife, Sandra and doting father to his three accomplished daughters; Katlyn; Jaclyn; and Jocelyn; and, loving Papa to granddaughter, Harper Jean.
It was the strength of Mario’s character that made him a truly great person. He was well respected by his colleagues; fellow firefighters and the residents of the Town of Watertown. Being a firefighter is more than courage, it’s sacrificing yourself for something greater than yourself. Mario was a true leader with a servant’s heart.