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AAA Roadside Technician Rescues Elderly Couple From Home Fire

roadside technician hero

Every day, AAA Northeast’s expert roadside technicians demonstrate a dedication to helping and serving people.

Some days, their efforts are downright heroic.

May 30 was one of those days. That’s when Norman Strom helped save an elderly couple from a fire in their Grafton, Mass., home.

A view of the Grafton home shortly after it caught fire.

Strom was passing their house on his way to a Roadside Assistance request when he noticed smoke billowing from the garage. Strom, a volunteer firefighter of 15 years, stopped to knock on the door of the house and notify anyone inside. The couple had no idea of their plight.

Strom helped them out of the house and to a safe place. Then, as the first flames emerged, he returned inside to rescue a cat and some of the couple’s personal items.

Not 10 minutes later, a propane tank in the garage exploded, setting the entire house ablaze.
“He saved our lives,” Norman Daigle told a Boston-based TV station. Daigle and his wife lived at the house with his daughter and his son-in-law.

Multiple media outlets reported the story as did the Your AAA website and the AAA Northeast Facebook page. AAA members commended Strom for his actions. Daigle’s daughter, Debra Rixham, was among them. She wrote:

“Thank you do [sic] much Norman. I do not have the words to express how grateful we are. This was my house and it was my parents that you saved along with my cat Kevin. We will meet in the near future so that we can thank you properly.”

Soft-spoken and humble, Strom said he was simply doing his job on that fateful Wednesday afternoon.

roadside technician hero
Norman Strom and his girlfriend, Sue Tucker, at AAA’s fleet center in Millbury, Mass.

“I would do it again,” he said. “If everybody helped one another, we’d live in a better world.”
But Strom’s actions went far beyond his AAA duties, and club leaders felt he should be celebrated for it.

“At AAA Northeast, we help and serve as a way of life. Norman took that to the next level,” John Nardolillo, senior vice president of member services, said. “He was driving by that house for a reason. If he didn’t stop, if he didn’t go inside, I don’t believe those folks would have made it.”

Strom wasn’t interested in formal recognition, though. He asked that the club instead do something to help the victims. So, a donation in Strom’s name was made to a GoFundMe page set up for the family.

roadside technician hero
From left, Bill Smith, director of fleet operations for AAA Northeast, Norman Strom and John Nardolillo, senior vice president of member services for AAA Northeast

Strom’s wishes regarding a recognition event went unheeded. The club held a small celebration for him in early June.

Other AAA Heroes

Strom is not the only AAA hero.

On June 11, Nellie Hutchinson and Kitt Sewer-Small, employees at the AAA Wayne, N.J., office, helped prevent a possible suicide on a bridge in Paterson, N.J.

In December 2016, roadside technician Bobby McCollough pulled a man from a burning building in Providence, R.I.

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