Good News Blog


Friday, Mar. 2, 2007

Fire Department Recognized For Dog Rescue

Division Chief Dale Lyman of the Union Colony Fire/Rescue Authority will receive PETA’s Compassionate Firefighter Award on behalf of his firefighters’ for their heroic rescue of a dog who fell through the ice on a pond at Two Rivers Park.

On Feb. 11, a dog named Taz was being walked in the park when he ran onto the frozen pond. The ice gave way, and Taz fell into the freezing water. He struggled to pull himself back onto the ice but to no avail. Within moments of arriving, a rescue firefighter hurried out onto the ice and was able to pull Taz out of the water. The rescue team wrapped Taz in blankets after he was reunited with his guardian.

Lyman will receive a framed certificate and a letter of appreciation on behalf of his rescue firefighters.

“The bravery and compassion shown by the Union Colony Fire/Rescue team will serve as an inspiration to others throughout the community and beyond,” PETA Director Daphna Nachminovitch said. “Greeley is very fortunate to have a public agency that is ready to protect and serve the city’s residents and their beloved four-legged companions.”

Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007

Firefighters Rescue Dog From Icy Pond

Firefighters in Greeley rescued a dog from the icy waters of a pond at the Two Rivers Park on Sunday afternoon.

The Union Colony Fire Rescue was called to the 1500 block of 65th Ave. when the dog, named Taz, ran into the open water during a walk with his owner.

Taz fell through the ice as he ran across the pond.

Firefighters saw Taz struggling to stay afloat and trying to pull himself out of the water when they arrived.

One minute after arriving, a rescue firefighter was on the ice and able to eventually help Taz out of the water.

Taz returned to his owner, Louis Maldanado, and firefighters wrapped him in a blanket and helped dry him.

Union Colony Fire Rescue said people whould remember the dangers posed by the combination of ice and open water in area lakes and ponds, especially as spring weather approaches and ice begins to weaken.

Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2007

How fire heroes saved tots

A little girl’s smile was all the reward a group of modest FDNY heroes needed after saving 2-year-old twins from a burning Harlem building, they said yesterday.

After learning the kids were trapped inside the apartment building at 116th Street and Lenox Avenue on Sunday afternoon, the Bravest swung into action.

Lt. Mickey Conboy and firefighter Jimmy DiSciullo, of Squad 41, wearing masks and crawling on their hands and knees, felt their way through the heavy smoke.

They broke down a door, plucked the tots from a crib, and took them to a fire escape, where they handed them off to Dan Shaffer and George Baade of Ladder 14 in a cherry picker outside.

The toddlers noticed everyone on the street was watching, and “they started to wave,” Shaffer said. “And the girl smiled. That’s when you get to say, ‘That’s what you’re there for.’ ”

Shrugging off any suggestions that they’re heroes, Conboy said, “It’s always a team effort.”

Monday, Feb. 12, 2007

Firefighters honored for rescue

Edwardsville firefighters Matt Sinnokrak and Bill Reiter were awarded Medals of Valor on Tuesday.

The two men were honored for their efforts during a house fire that occurred on Dec. 2, 2006, that saved the life of 19-year-old Caleb Bruce.

The city conducted a ceremony prior to the council meeting where city officials, firefighters, family and friends joined to honor the heroes from that day.

Sinnokrak and Reiter were unaware why they were there, they were just told to show up and be dressed in full uniform.

Fire Chief Brian Wilson said, “We are here tonight to honor two firefighters who would call this duty routine. This was anything but routine,” Wilson said.

Bruce along with his family and Wilson awarded the Medals of Valor along with a certificate to Sinnokrak and Reiter.

This was the first time Bruce had met his rescuers.

Wilson said that on Dec. 2, the ice storm was lingering and it was cold. He said the fire department responded to a fire on Pin Oak Road.

Upon arrival, Wilson said the firefighters realized it was morning, cars were in the drive and no one was outside.

“The firefighters realized there was a chance someone was still inside,” Wilson said.

He said Sinnokrak and Reiter entered the house full of heavy smoke not knowing how the fire was spreading.

“They searched each room,” he said.

Wilson said the two searched the house using the “sense of feel alone.”

They found Bruce unconscious.

To save his life, they knew they had to get him out of the house to get medical attention, he said.

Sinnokrak and Reiter did, and because of that Bruce is alive today.

After the rescue, Bruce was transported to Anderson Hospital and then to St. John’s Hospital in St. Louis.

Bruce said he was there for about 20 days for recovery.

“I want to thank the fire department for saving me,” Bruce said.

Mayor Gary Niebur said the city was proud of the firefighters.

“We are certainly grateful and it is a pleasure and honor what took place here tonight and recall what you two did to save a life. We would like to thank you and applaud you on behalf of the city of Edwardsville. Thank you and all the firefighters and police for what they do for the city,” Niebur said.

Sinnokrak and Reiter have been recommended for recognition at the state level as well.

Firefighters rescue dog from icy water

Norwalk firefighters rescued a big black family dog that fell through ice at the reservoir on Old State Road.

The dog, named Bo, was at the reservoir with his owner, Tom Bond, firefighters said.

Near shore, the ice was strong enough to hold the weight of firefighters Jamie Starcher and John Soisson and an inflatable rescue boat.

Bo was in the water at the edge of an ice flow about 125 feet from shore, unable to climb back onto the ice, firefighters said.

Soisson and Starcher walked on the ice most of the way to Bo, said Capt. Tom Frey, who held a life line.

Then Starcher and Soisson crawled into the boat and used the oars to break the ice so they could reach Bo, they said.

Soisson reached down from the front of the boat and grabbed the dog. Both men hoisted the dog into the boat.

The dog probably was in the water for 30-40 minutes, Frey said.

Exhausted, Bo lay in the boat until they arrived on shore, the firefighters said. The men picked up the dog and placed him into Bond’s truck.

The dog was fine by Monday, firefighters said.

Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2007

Fireman honored for rescue

New Navasota firefighter Eddie Parrott was honored Jan. 22 for his lifesaving effort, but he said teamwork made the rescue possible

Parrott likely saved the life of Navasota’s Eugene Allen Jan. 12. Navasota Fire Department units were dispatched to 4488 E. Hwy 105, near Navasota, that morning. When they got there, they found a trailer house nearly fully engulfed in flames. A family member said her grandmother, the 59-year-old Allen, was still inside the trailer, in a back bedroom.

Parrott went inside, and after some tense moments of searching, found Allen lying on the floor by her bed. He got her secured and ran her outside.

At the Jan. 22 Navasota City Council meeting, Deputy Chief/Department Head Jason Katkoski gave Parrott an award of valor for his effort.

Parrott, recently hired by the city after 14 years with the Houston Fire Department, described how the situation played out.

“I was kind of past thinking,” he said. “(But) they try to keep you from getting … tunnel vision (in fire academy).”

But he stressed that it wasn’t his work alone.

“If it wasn’t for all the guys in the Navasota Fire Department, this wouldn’t be possible. And the good Lord put me there,” he said.

Parrott also talked a bit about the adrenaline involved in a rescue.

A firefighter’s full bunker suit can be heavy, and with the adrenaline of a rescue effort flowing heavy, a rescue can seem fast and furious.

“After you’re done, you’re pretty drained,” he said.

Off-duty firefighters rescue surfer

Two off-duty San Francisco firefighters getting ready for a surf session at Ocean Beach this afternoon helped save the life of a fellow surfer caught in a rip tide, according to San Francisco Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Ahumada.

The firefighters, Mars Rivera and Eric Tanimura, were suiting up in the parking lot and scoping out the waves just after 3 p.m. when they saw a surfer about 100 yards off shore, Ahumada said.

“They were watching the surf and spotted him, they know the beach and saw him in a rip current. They decided, ‘you know what? We’ll go out there,'” Ahumada said.

The firefighters, also members of the surf rescue team, checked in with Ahumada before entering the water and making their way to the surfer.

The man, who “looked the part” of an experience surfer, had tired after struggling against the currents pushing him out to sea.

“What happens, when they get caught in a rip current, they swim in as far as they can, and the water takes them straight out to where they were. Unless they know that they need to go lateral, down the current and then come in another area, they get tired and by that time, they can’t figure it out,” Ahumada said.

For his part, the surfer was grateful, if sheepish. “He was really embarrassed, I said ‘just take it easy, it’s not going to cost you anything,'” Ahumada said.

Ahumada expressed pride in the efforts of Rivera and Tanimura. “They did everything right. I’ve got to commend them.”

Monday, Feb. 5, 2007

Firefighters rescue, revive dog

The good news from a home fire Thursday in Perry is one of the family dogs was revived.

No one was home at the time of the fire, Thursday about 3 p.m., except two dogs, Bo and Buster, said homeowner William Allford. Thanks to the efforts of EMT Ed Dixon and Paramedic Todd Surber from Houston Emergency Medical Services, Bo survived.

Firefighters found the dog inside the home after putting out the fire and brought him out for Surber and Dixon to work on. They gave the dog oxygen, putting a mask over his snout and massaged the dog for several minutes to resuscitate him. Allford’s wife Mary Bevin took the dog, once revived, to nearby Perry Animal Hospital on Courtney Hodges Boulevard.

Allford, who has shared the house on Oak Ridge Drive with his wife for about 10 years, said they had Bo for about a year. They had Buster, the smaller of the two, for four-five years, he said.

Perry Fire Department got the call on the fire at 2:57 p.m. and responded with two engines and called Warner Robins Fire Department to assist with a third engine. Flames were showing as the first units arrived.

Allford said he got off work about noon and came home and turned on a heater. He said the heater has a breaker to shut it off. “I don’t think that was it. I hadn’t been gone that long,” he said.

Perry Fire Department Deputy Chief Joel Gray said “we believe the fire was an accident from statements from the homeowner. There was a space heater in one of the back rooms.”

Gray said, “we won’t know for sure, because the rooms were badly destroyed from the fire. There was smoke damage in the rest of the home.”

Firefighters Dash To Newborn’s Rescue

A couple and their newborn baby were plucked to safety from a window by firefighters today. The pair, who had no smoke alarm in their flat in Netherton, Dudley, were led to safety down a ladder, carrying their baby, as choking smoke billowed.

Along with other residents, they were given checks for the effects of smoke inhalation.

Several other tenants left on their own while others were told to remain indoors as the fire was tackled and the block in Leabank Road cleared of smoke.

Fifteen firefighters spent more than an hour dealing with the incident and afterwards used a high-powered fan to ventilate the flats.

The alarm was raised at 4.20am after an electrical fault sparked a blaze in the ground-floor power supply cupboard to the flats Firefighters arrived to find the corridors of the low-rise block filling with smoke and the couple – in their 20s- at the front window of their second floor flat with their baby.

A spokesman for Cradley Heath fire station said it was believed the couple had woken up soon after the fire started and after other tenants raised the alarm.

“They had no smoke alarm in their own flat,” he said.

“They were waiting at the window and we were able to pitch a nine- metre ladder up there to bring them safely down with the child.

“Five or six other residents made their own way out while we advised others to stay indoors.”

The spokesman added that advice on fire safety was afterwards given to the couple and that firefighters were to return to the block today to carry out checks and offer guidance.

Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2007

Firefighters Rescue Dog Trapped In Submerged Car

Golden Retriever was rescued from a submerged, overturned vehicle Monday night during a dramatic rescue in Puyallup, Wash.

The dog was one of two dogs that were in the vehicle when the driver lost control and the vehicle flipped into marshy water.

The driver and a small lap dog escaped the vehicle but the Golden Retriever was stuck inside, unable to get out.

Firefighters, a swift water rescue team, and a sheriff’s department dive team showed up to the accident but at first couldn’t get to the trapped dog.

A dive team using scuba gear worked to get to the dog and after a reported 30 to 40 minutes was able to pull it out of the vehicle and out of the water.

The driver was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Both the small lap dog and the Golden Retriever are said to be doing just fine, although the Golden Retriever was not ready to get into a police car.

Monday, Jan. 29, 2007

Hunky firefighters burn up wallets for charity

This week I had the opportunity of covering an event outside Hamden. Hesitant at first, I quickly jumped at the chance once I learned more about my assignment.

Working with a big company like Hometown Publications, which publishes 12 weekly papers, we editors sometimes have to lend each other a helping hand.

So when I was asked to cover an event in Stratford on Thursday, I didn’t hesitate to oblige.

When I found out I’d be chatting it up with some of Connecticut’s sexiest firemen, I surely didn’t refuse. I am, after all, a professional.

There is more to these first responders than meets the eye. They come from communities throughout Connecticut, including Hamden, and are featured in an annual firefighter’s calendar.

What sets these men apart from other “sexy” calendars is that they do it for charity.

After previously contributing to the Children’s Cancer Center at Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Connecticut Burns Care Foundation, this year the gentlemen decided to donate to the Easter Seals Goodwill Foundation.

The New Haven-based foundation provides services for people with disabilities.

Allingtown firefighter Tony Connor and West Haven Firefighter Terri Roundtree have organized the annual calendar, which sells for $10. They also enlisted the assistance of others to put it all together.

The idea came from Judy Orrange, a former employee at the University of New Haven. Connor said Orrange pitched the idea, and four years later the rest is history.

The popular calendar has helped raised more than $10,000 for both Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Burn Camp.

Although it’s still too early to tell, Easter Seals President Rich Borer said the men might raise even more money this year.

F rom the looks of the female enthusiasm at the event, it wouldn’t surprise me if they surpass their financial goal.

Although they didn’t perform any impossible feats, it isn’t easy putting yourself out there for public scrutiny.

The four firefighters who attended the calendar signing conducted themselves with respect despite facing some cackling and “woo-hoos.”

I think at one point, I even let one out. Being in the presence of such perfectly sculpted individuals, I couldn’t contain myself. The fact that they are doing this for a good cause makes it even harder to resist.

For a moment, I took back all the times I complained about my job. However, when it came down to writing the actual story, I was back to “I really don’t want to do this.”

Not because I didn’t want to write about the firefighters, but because I wanted to convey the right message.

I didn’t want the article to simply be about sexy men selling calendars. I wanted there to be more depth. To find that depth I only had to review my notes and rethink the reason behind the calendar – charity.

Like when I lend a helping hand to a fellow colleague in a time of need, these men decided to stop thinking about doing something for someone else and actually do it.

In doing so, they have subjected themselves to the public eye, which for the most part, can be very judgmental. Talking to these men, you’ll understand that they only want to do the right thing.

In addition to having something wonderful to look at every month, those who purchase calendars play a major role in assisting a great cause.

A 2008 calendar already is one in the works, and interested volunteers are encouraged to submit photos.

To purchase a calendar or learn more about becoming involved visit

Not only have these men decided to donate to charity, but they also put their lives out on the line everyday for residents in the communities they serve.

It’s time to play our part and give back to those who provide us with safety and security.

And if that doesn’t entice you ladies, just think, one of these fine gentlemen might be responding to you in your time of need. That’s reason enough for me.

Friday, Jan. 26, 2007

Firefighters hailed as heroes after saving family

Members of the Peabody Fire Department rescue a family of five from a burning building on Tuesday night.

Authorities says the lower levels of the nine-unit apartment complex did not hear the fire alarms when the blaze ignited around 10:30 p.m. at 5 Park St.

“They were sound asleep,” said Lt. John Manning, of the Peabody Police Department. “The smoke detectors were going off. People [were] yelling.”

It wasn’t until a neighbor broke Wander Vonheld’s apartment window that he woke up and realized his family was in danger.

As a result, firefighters came to the rescue of the parents, their twin seven-year-old girls and five-year-old son in a first floor apartment.

“We knocked the door in,” said Lt. Manning.

“The house was getting fired in the top, and after, everybody was running,” Debra Vonheld (pictured), 7, said.

Firefighters, along with crews from Salem and Lynn, responded to the blaze that engulfed the wooden structure from the 1880s. They believe the fire may have started in the ceiling at the top of the complex.

No injuries were reported, but the blaze displaced between 25 to 50 residents. The Red Cross was notified of their condition.

Four firefighters free 6 month old kitten

Paramedic and firefighter Rob Illingworth put years of experience and training to good use yesterday during a daring high-altitude ladder rescue on Bealey Avenue.

Six-month-old kitten Texie, brought down from his arboreal escapade by no fewer than four firefighters, ran off with no word of thanks.

Illingworth, a St Albans firefighter, scaled a 10m ladder to put the four-legged furball in the classic over-the-shoulder fireman’s lift.

“Well, I had him over my shoulder and relied on its claws to hold on. He was pretty keen to get to the ground,” he said.

Illingworth said cats get themselves into that kind of strife about twice a year.

“We try to convince people the cat will come down by itself – I mean, you don’t see a lot of dead cats in trees – but by the time most people call us, they’ve already exhausted all other avenues and the owners is as distressed as the cats,” he said.

“It doesn’t do anyone any harm to get out and save a cat.”

Officer-in-charge Peter McArdle said the 8.30am rescue was prompted by simultaneous calls from the cat’s owner and her neighbour.

“This cat was in quite a lot of distress. By the time we got there it was clinging on for dear life and it was pretty gusty at the top of that tree,” he said.

“But Rob’s a trained paramedic, so he would have been there if the cat had needed any resus (resuscitation).”

Texie’s owner, Dr Wendy Rose Isbell, said she had no idea how long Texie had been up the tree but she was delighted he had been pulled to safety. Her other cat, Timmy, could not bear to watch.

Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2007

Firefighters rescue deer trapped in frozen pond

A young deer has Langford firefighters to thank for rescuing him from a frozen pond and a hungry bald eagle at the Bear Mountain golf course yesterday.

Bear Mountain staff noticed about 11 a.m. that the year-old buck had fallen through the ice on the pond near the 12th hole.

There were no tracks evident on the fresh snow near the pond, so the buck must may have gone through the ice 12 hours before, said Langford fire chief Bob Beckett.

A blue heron was standing on the ice by the deer.

Firefighter Steve Adams was the first to reach the deer, and the animal gave out a plaintive cry, said Beckett.

“Steve started to talk to it and very gently stroked its head and scratched its ear. The deer seemed to settle down and then collapsed.”

Another firefighter cradled the deer in his arms and others dragged the two to shore.

“Then we took off our coats and put the deer in the coats and covered him up,” said Beckett.

Rescue seemed to happen in the nick of time, he said. “There was an eagle that had apparently tried to peck at its tail,” said Beckett.

“There was a blue heron that flew in when we arrived and stayed with the deer while our guys went out and secured it. … I’d like to think that the heron was there to give the deer some comfort and assurance that help was on its way.”

Veterinarian Chris Collis of Glenview Animal Hospital assessed the deer and determined no bones had been broken. The animal was taken to the clinic for treatment for hypothermia.

It will likely then be transferred to Wild ARC animal rehabilitation centre in Metchosin in preparation for release, Beckett said.

Friday, Jan. 19, 2007

Dog rescues after fall off cliff

A rock-climbing firefighter rescued a dog from a quarry ledge after it fell off a cliff while hunting raccoons with its owner.

The coonhound named Slick had been tracking a raccoon near the edge of the quarry Saturday when he fell over the side, said the dog’s owner, Albert Ashcraft of Mooresville.

Cloverdale Township Firefighter Doug Ehman, an amateur rock climber, brought his equipment to the site north of Cloverdale, about 40 miles west of Indianapolis. He descended the sheer face of the quarry wall when, about 12 feet down, he stumbled onto a small ledge with a narrow crevice extending into the wall. Inside the crevice was Slick, a bit bewildered but uninjured.

The ledge had stopped Slick from falling about 50 feet to the bottom of the quarry.

“He was pretty happy to see me,” Ehman said.

Ehman used rope to fashion a makeshift harness for the dog and tie it to his own body before other firefighters hoisted the pair back up to the cliff.

Ashcraft and Slick are headed to Alabama next month to compete in a hunt.

“When you have one of these dogs since they’ve been a pup, they become part of the family, he said. “If he had fallen all the way down, I don’t know if he would have made it.”

Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2007

Firefighters make rare cat rescue call

Residents in the 300 block of North Madison Street are no longer scratching their heads trying to figure out how to get down the cat stuck up in a tree.

The Janesville Fire Department rescued it Saturday morning, but don’t expect that to be common practice.

“As a rule, we never go after cats because you’re risking machinery, personnel and taking a unit out of position to go get a cat,” said Shift Commander Stephen Ballou.

The department stopped fetching cats years ago, Ballou said, because “if you leave them alone, they come down on their own. It’s when people go after them they get higher and then they actually do get trapped.”

Still, Ballou made the decision Saturday morning to have the cat rescued.

“It’d been four days and the people said the cat was screaming,” he said.

The rescue took about 10 minutes and involved Engine 81-a ladder truck. The ladder, holding one firefighter, was raised 60 feet into the tree-the height the cat had climbed to, Ballou said.

When the cat was brought down, it was let go, Ballou said.

Although the cat rescue didn’t cost anything in actual dollars, Ballou said the cost to his department was risk.

“It’s a horrible risk for me to make that decision and take that engine out. What if there was a fire or heart attack a block away? Then we would have been on Madison Street with the ladder up,” he said.

On the other hand, Ballou said: “I can look at it as training-to put the ladder up.”

Firefighters Rescue Dog From River

Leah, a German shepherd, was on a tighter leash – literally – on Monday, following her near-death foray into the Great Miami River over the weekend.

“She had gotten out once before, but she only went around the block,” said her relieved owner, Tiffany Trout, 25. “Now we`ve got her on a leash; we don`t just let her out.”

On Saturday, the dog wandered several miles away from home. When firefighters found her around 8:30 a.m., she was perched on a pipe in the river, 30 feet away from the riverbank, just south of the High Street bridge.

“That was pretty shocking, to find out she was actually in the river,” Trout said. “At first I thought they just got her from the side of the river, but then they explained it to me.”

There were tense moments as rain persisted, the water level swelled and the dog nearly lost her footing, said Deputy Fire Chief Greg Robbins.

When a rescue boat pulled up alongside, “The dog willingly went in,” he said. “The dog was very wet, very scared.” This was the first time fire crews pulled a dog from the river in Robbins` 26 years with the department. Crews tracked down Trout from a tag on the dog`s collar.

Had conditions been worse, the rescue might never have happened. Fire officials must weigh risk to fire personnel before deciding to attempt such a rescue.

“We would never, never endanger our own people to rescue an animal,” Robbins said. Capt. Steve Detherage decided to attempt the rescue because “the river wasn`t going that fast and that high yet,” Robbins said.

Friday, Jan. 12, 2007

Firefighters rescue man trapped in burning apartment

The firefighters responded to a two-alarm structure fire at the Kingston Terrace apartment building. Kingston Volunteer Fire Company Capt. Walter Lane was among the first to respond to the scene along with firefighters James Luck and Jaime Pineiro. The Monmouth Junction and Plainsboro fire departments also responded.

Firefighters arrived to find smoke pouring from the second floor of the burning building. Told by horrified neighbors as well as the building’s property manager that someone was still trapped inside, they knew that they had to act quickly. Hose in hand, they advanced.

“We used an attack line to the second floor, and the fire was knocked down within 10 minutes,” said Lane.

Afterward, firefighters searched for the man who had been trapped in the blaze, using a thermal imaging camera, and found him lying unconscious on his living-room floor. Previously, another resident had attempted to rescue him and needed to be treated for smoke inhalation.

Lane, with firefighters James Robin and Dennis Shennard, went into the apartment, by then full of inky black smoke, to retrieve him.

“There was smoke down to the floor – zero visibility in that apartment,” Lane said.

While visibility was a problem, they were able to find the victim and get him out of the building. He was immediately attended to by members of the Kendall Park First Aid Squad before being rushed first to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick, and then transferred to the burn unit at Saint Barnabas Hospital, Livingston. According to South Brunswick police, he is listed in critical condition.

The fire is still being investigated by the South Brunswick Fire Safety Department, but according to the acting fire marshal for the township, Alan Laird, the fire is believed to have been caused by “careless smoking.”

Thursday, Jan. 11, 2007

Firefighters rescue dog from quarry

FIREFIGHTERS rescued a dog who was trapped on a cliff face for more than 15 hours following a 50ft fall.

Milo the staffie-collie cross was reunited with owner Sue Willcocks when Malvern Fire Brigade’s line rescue team made a 100ft descent down Upper Wyche Quarry on Wednesday, January 10.

Milo, a three-and-a-half year old rescue dog, disappeared while Mrs Willcocks walked him on the hills above the quarry the previous evening.
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“We were walking along as usual and then he was gone,” said Mrs Willcocks. “I assumed he must have run off after something – we spent hours searching for him but he didn’t make a sound.”

Mrs Willcocks returned early on Wednesday morning to find Milo stranded on a ledge halfway up the quarry.

After clearing foliage at the top of the quarry leading firefighter Martin Gray climbed down the slippery rock-face and strapped Milo into a nappy harness, before carrying him down to be reunited with his delighted owner.

Milo was in good health apart from a small cut on his back leg, but Mrs Willcocks said she would take him to the vet for a check-up after spending the night in the cold.

“The fire crew were absolutely amazing and I’m so grateful to them. They are very brave, and without them Milo would still be up there,” she said.

Mr Gray said the rescue had gone so well it had been like a training exercise. “The rock face was quite slippy and the ground was quite loose so we had to be careful, but it all went very well and we got the right result,” he said.

Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2007

Fireman on rescue: ‘I just did my job’

Sean Lucas has seen plenty of intense moments during his 12 years as a firefighter, but he says the memory of his heroism Sunday night will always be a high point of his career.

He said he wants his actions in saving the life of a baby boy during a duplex fire to serve as an example for his young children.

“They understand that, when I go to work, I am going to help people,” Lucas said. “I took this job to help people. I just did my job.”

At 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Southern Manatee Fire Rescue responded to a fire in the 100 block of 59th Avenue East.

Twenty firefighters found a duplex engulfed in smoke and flames. The fire was so bad that, after entering the building, firefighters had to evacuate the duplex and fight the blaze from the outside.

All of the residents from both units of the building got out safely. But, as Lucas battled the blaze, a woman from one of the units came up with a baby boy in her arms, suffering from smoke inhalation.

“She said her baby was not breathing,” said Lucas.

Things were bad for the child. He had no pulse.

“The baby was totally unresponsive,” Lucas said.

He began CPR and the baby regained his pulse and resumed breathing.

By that time, Manatee County Emergency Services had arrived. Lucas gave the child to emergency workers and went back to the fire.

Lucas has been a firefighter for 12 years, seven in the military and five with Southern Manatee, but Sunday’s events were a first.

“It is a once-in-a-career event. Our goal every time we go to a scene is to save lives. And we did that,” said Lucas.

Firefighters and emergency personnel have to be ready to deal with crisis situations as though they are routine, according to Manatee County Public Safety spokesman Capt. Larry Leinhauser.

“It was not a routine situation. But for us it is,” he said. “It is the kind of outcome we like.”

Leinhauser said after Lucas’ heroics, the baby was airlifted to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, in stable condition.

The name of the child has not been released. The family could not be reached for comment.

Lucas is also admired by his peers.

“He did a great job, a great thing,” said Southern Manatee Battalion Chief Pete Donchenko. “He did what everyone in this business hopes to do in a situation like that.”

Donchenko said the cause of the fire was still under investigation. One of two families has been assisted by the American Red Cross, according to Erin Marsh, the agency’s emergency services coordinator in Manatee County.

Marsh said the Red Cross offers food, financial assistance, temporary housing and clothing to victims of fires. She said a family of four contacted the Red Cross and has received help.

Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2007

Fire fighters rescue dog from blaze

At two years old, Dash is considered the baby of the Culpepper family. “You just get attached to them and enjoy watching them grow and their little personalities develop just like your own children,” says Roger Culpepper.

But this family’s Valdosta home was destroyed when their Christmas tree caught on fire. “By the time we could get water on it, we were trying to get hoses and everything, it was out of control,” he adds.

Without the quick work of some Valdosta Fire Fighters, Dash might not have seen the new year. “On my way to the house to find out what my assignment was, I saw some children crying in the front yard. And they were crying because their dog was still stuck inside the house,” says firefighter Scott Williams.

“Most pets, if they can’t get out of a house, first thing they do is hide so we looked under the furniture, bed, closets…anywhere a dog could hide,” adds Sgt. Jeff Thibodeau, a firefighter with the Valdosta Fire Department.

And they did find Dash hiding in a closet, but the dog was not breathing. “Myself and Sgt. Thibodeau brought the dog out back and started CPR on the dog and administered oxygen,” Williams says.

Their efforts paid off. Dash soon started breathing and has since made a full recovery. “They were willing to give him mouth to mouth. That’s just incredible that they were willing to go to that extent to save his little life,” says Wendy Culpepper.

“We do whatever it takes. We understand the pets are part of the family and they are a love one too, and when we go inside searching, we do it just like it was a human being,” Sgt. Thibodeau adds.

The men and women at the Valdosta Fire Department says its just part of the job. But these fire fighters will always be heroes in the eyes of the Culpeppers.

Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2007

Handcuff headache prompts a rescue call

It was just one of the unusual emergencies tackled by firefighters
A man trapped in handcuffs, someone stuck in a swamp and a pony in a swimming pool were among the more unusual calls for help that Beds and Luton Fire and Rescue Service received in the last three months.

A report to Beds and Luton Combined Fire Authority outlined the major fires and other emergencies that firefighters dealt with, as well as noting the rescues that have taken place.

Among them was a man who reported to Luton Fire Station in Studley Road on September 20 at 6.40pm and asked firefighters to release him from a pair of handcuffs.

Earlier in the month another man had to be pulled from a swamp in Ampthill Park in the middle of the night.
And it was not just humans that needed to be rescued – firefighters also saved a pony that had fallen into a swimming pool.

Its owner wrote to thank the rescue team and noted that the pony and its companion, both retired showjumpers, had probably escaped from their field with the help of troublemakers who were being investigated by the police.

Rescue pumps from Luton, Stopsley and Dunstable with the aerial platform from Luton, the emergency rescue unit from Stopsley, the water carrier from Toddington and a foam unit from Bucks all sprang into action when a Cessna jet with hydraulics failure carrying two people overshot the runway at Luton Airport in September.

No-one was hurt or trapped during the incident.
The senior investigation officer for HM Revenue and Customs Criminal Investigations wrote to thank officers for their assistance during the course of Operation Cowling, a major investigation into fuel laundering in Luton, Bedford and London.

He said: “The assistance with entry to, making safe and dealing with a sophisticated oil laundering plant, equipment and associated chemicals was gratefully appreciated.

“Revenue and Customs were not aware of the nature of the site prior to entry and the professional approach by the fire service officers in attendance ensured the safety of all persons at the site. It allowed for the prompt and safe removal of all equipment at the site and was of great assistance with resourcing and logistics.”

Away from airport emergencies and fuel laundering, there has also been time for helping the community, with firefighters attending school and church fetes throughout the county.

The headteacher of Stopsley Primary School thanked Stopsley Blue Watch for moving benches in the school playground.

He said: “The children have been asking for more places to sit away from the hustle of playground games and we can now provide them with a place to sit in peace and safety. As you know, the benches in question were very heavy and far too bulky to shift, so we are grateful that you could come and help us.”

And the chairman of the Bedford Model Engineering Society thanked Station Commander Adams and the Biggleswade team for helping to fill a portable model boating pond which had been donated just a day before the start of the National Model Engineering Rally.

The firefighters stepped in to help after hearing that the nearest tap was half a mile away from where the boating pond had been set up.

Friday, Dec. 15, 2006

Rescuers are true heroes

This letter is to describe the dedication of the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad.

Early last July 4th while repairing my dock with one of my sons, I suffered a tragic accident. A rotted timber gave way and I fell directly into the lake, hitting my head on a rock, was completely paralyzed … could not move, breath or talk.

My son pulled me from the water and called 911. Within 20 minutes Dick Smith, Bob Baker, Dan Fitzgerald and John Sillman, the first responders from the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, were on the scene providing excellent care as they immobilized me for the trip by boat and ambulance to the Grand Marais Hospital. [Firefighting: Heroes of fire and rescue through history and around the world]

I had suffered a broken neck and spinal cord injuries. I am now able to walk, talk and use my limbs about 40 percent.

I wish to extend a public heartfelt thanks to these volunteers and all others involved. They are real heroes asking for nothing other than for the satisfaction of the good feeling of having helped their fellow man.

Thanks to these volunteers for giving me a chance!

Doug Rowley
St. Paul and Magnetic Lake

Monday, Dec. 11, 2006

Cops, firefighters become personal shoppers

Axel Valeri was all about anything but himself while shopping on Saturday morning.

The nine-year-old Hibbingite was one of 10 area kids who picked out gifts for family members during the fifth annual Shop with a Cop/Shop with a Firefighter event held at Wal-Mart.

Each youth — chosen by the Hibbing Police Department and the Hibbing Fire Department — was given $100 in funds from Wal-Mart to spend at the store. How the monies were spent was up to each participant.

Most opted to buy for their parental units and siblings. But Valeri took the opportunity one step further.

Not only did he buy solely for his mom and sisters, at the conclusion of the shopping spree he handed over a bag of goodies with a tag from The Salvation Army’s Angel tree for another area youth in need.

“I didn’t buy anything for myself,” said Valeri with a sense of pride. “Why would I buy something for myself? I’d already know what it is. Plus, it’d be weird to see ‘to Axel from Axel’ on it.”

Valeri said he brought along gifts ideas, wanting to mix in something fun and with something practical for each.

“I thought about my sister and how she likes to crawl,” said Valeri, referring to Opal, his eight-month-old sister. “So I got her a musical pop-up thing.”

Opal will also be the lucky recipient of a toy train and a dancing monkey. His other sibling, Lola, 3, will have fun unwrapping a puppy with carrying case and a pony barn with twin equines.

“I got my mom a necklace and bracelet with blues stones,” he added. “And socks.”

He wasn’t at a loss of ideas, but the money only went so far.

“I tried to think of things they would like, so that made it easy,” he said. “Then I thought about things they could use.”

Valeri was paired with Hibbing Police Capt. Rich Sellman. With a colored calculator in hand, Sellman raced around the store assisting, advising and adding up Valeri’s purchases.

“It was awesome,” said Sellman of the shopping experience. “We had a fun time together picking out stuff for his mom and sisters.”

Sellman said he was impressed by the youngster’s selflessness.

“He spent every dime on his family,” said Sellman. “He didn’t buy one thing for himself.”

Bonding over buying gifts led to a humorous banter between the two. When chomping on a doughnut after shopping, Valeri asked all about Sellman’s duty belt — namely the spring loaded Long John doughnut dispenser (clip holder), his tiny cup of instant coffee (mace holder) and his ability to radio into the doughnut man when he needs more.

Sellman laughed.

“This is lots of fun,” he added. “It’s fun to see things through kid’s eyes again.”

Sellman also noted the event is a good way to introduce emergency workers to the young population.

“This allows the kids to see us as regular people,” he said. “It’s something we can do with the kids on their level, and shows them that we do more than deal with bad people.”

The firefighters/paramedics enjoyed the experience as well.

“It’s always fun to take kids shopping, isn’t it?” said Fire Marshal Jim Iammateo. “Plus we got a chance to sit down and talk with them.”

Firefighter/paramedic Matt Ashmore had to do some fancy juggling. He assisted brothers Bruno and Maxwell Cheney — keeping them separate to allow each to buy a gift for the other as well as working together to finds gifts for mom and dad.

“That took strategy,” admitted Ashmore. “We had to do some sneaking, swapping and separating. It was challenging, but we got it.”

The Cheneys each said they had a blast — dashing down the aisles, spending money and driving crazy with the cooler they bought for camping.

“It was cool,” said Bruno. “Dad was easy, but we debated about mom.”

Wal-Mart Personnel Manager Barb Miller said they enjoy hosting the annual event. She said they are lucky to have support for such a program, adding that many of the kids are grateful for the opportunity.

“It’s a good thing because some may not have a chance like this,” she said. “Many kids have thanked us in the past. We even have kids that remember us when they come back, so that’s neat.”

Miller said that if she could have her way, all of their grant money would be spent on a program like this. That way, she said, more kids would benefit.

Ashmore helped the Cheney brothers wheel out their cart of gifts — all wrapped, bagged and bowed. Their mom, Jennifer, lit up with a large smile and a smirk of surprise.

She commented on how great the program is, as Bruno and Maxwell bid farewell to Ashmore.

“This will make it a Merry Christmas,” said Bruno.

Thursday, Dec. 7, 2006

Waiter Is Hailed as a Hero After Saving Choking Baby

Firefighter hopeful Matt Miller has already saved one life, and he hasn’t even started training yet.

Miller, 18, a college student at Polk Community College studying fire science, rescued a choking infant Sunday night at Outback Steakhouse in Lakeland.

The hero, a waiter at the restaurant, had just worked a double shift and was on his way out the door. He turned around to grab a bite to eat before going home. While munching on his meal, he noticed a baby chewing on a crayon.

“At first, I didn’t think anything of it,” he said. “But I noticed he bit the end off of the crayon and started choking.”

He said the mother immediately screamed that her baby was choking. He said she was panicking.

“She was hysterical,” he said. “She had no clue what to do.”

Miller walked over to the table and said he could help. He took the baby and stuck a finger down his throat. He said he was lucky because he swiped the crayon out on the first try.

“With a baby, you can’t really give them the Heimlich maneuver,” he said.

He said the compressions could break an infant’s bones. So the airway needs to be cleared manually.

But Miller may have saved the baby twice. He said sticking a finger down the baby’s throat caused him to vomit. The mother was holding the child with his head back, which was causing him to choke again.

So again, Miller took the baby and held him facedown until the child finished. He said everything happened so fast.

Michael Burns was the server waiting on the child and his family. He said he was impressed by his co-worker.

“I saw a little bit of it,” he said. “I’m happy he has the training to do and the ability to do what he did.”

But Miller, who is just in his first semester, doesn’t start his paramedic training until next semester. He said his mother, who was trained as a paramedic, ran a daycare for some time. So he’s been around kids a lot, he said.

Miller’s mom, Jackie, said she and her husband, David, were impressed by their son’s presence of mind.

“We are so proud of him. … He’s got good instincts, good reflexes. He thinks on his feet.”

Miller said the child’s mother thanked him. But he never got a name. The Ledger was not able to locate the parents, either.

Miller said he was happy to have helped.

“I feel good about it,” he said. “I do. Even though it was a small thing, it did make a difference.”

Thursday, Nov. 16, 2006

Firefighters praise woman who saved her neighbour’s life

A PENSIONER who saved her blind neighbour’s life by calling firefighters to his smoke-filled flat is to be formally commended for her actions.

Michael Sealey, aged 55, was trapped in his flat when Christine Hill heard his smoke alarm. [Get one now]

The 70-year-old, who lives in the same block in Wellington Close, off St Paul’s Street in Worcester, rushed to Mr Sealey’s aid, but was unable to get a response when she knocked on his door so alerted the fire brigade.

Firefighters forced their way into the building and rescued Mr Sealey, who was taken to Worcestershire Royal Hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.

Mrs Hill said she was surprised to hear she was to receive a commendation.

“It was just a shock,” she said. “If it was anybody else, I would do it for them.”

She described Saturday’s dramatic events, which took place at about 11.20am.

“I went round to his front room window – it was black and I couldn’t see anything at all,” she said.

“I asked my neighbour Gordon to come round and he held his hand through the letterbox.

“He had managed to walk along the side of the wall to the door, and we kept telling him to try to open it, but he couldn’t.

“The smoke was so thick you couldn’t see through it.”

Alec Mackie, spokesman for Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service said: “We have very little doubt that had Mrs Hill not heard the working smoke alarm going off, then Mr Sealey would have had little chance of surviving, due to the volume of dense smoke.

“We would like to publically thank Mrs Hill for her actions in raising the alarm, as without this the outcome would probably have been quite different.”

Mr Mackie said the rescue highlighted how working smoke alarms do save lives.

He said: “We would urge everyone to take note and ensure that they have one in their home. Check it regularly and make sure it works.”

Mr Sealey was thought to still be in hospital when the Worcester News went to press.

The fire is thought to have started when a microwave on top of a cooker melted.

Monday, Nov. 13, 2006

Firefighters extinguish house fire, rescue dog overcome by smoke

A fire caused close to $50,000 in damage to a Newport News home early today, an official said.

The lone occupant escaped safely, but the family dog, a Schnauzer named Sade, suffered smoke inhalation and was rushed to a veterinary clinic, where it appeared to be recovering, said Dana Perry, spokeswoman for the Newport News Fire Department.

Perry said firefighters reached the house on Autumn Circle shortly after 7 a.m. and found smoke pouring from inside. She said a 20-year-old man inside was awakened by smoke alarms and managed to escape and call 911.

When firefighters went inside, Sade was found unconscious upstairs. They gave the dog oxygen then rushed it to a veterinary clinic, Perry said.

The fire appears to have been caused by unattended cooking in the kitchen, Perry said.

Thursday, Oct. 26, 2006

Every single firefighter passes as a hero

State and fire officials pushed shovels into the ground outside the Statehouse, symbolically breaking ground on what is to become a $1.1 million Fallen Firefighters Memorial.

The 7-foot-tall structure, consisting of three bronze sculptures of firefighters surrounded by bricks engraved with the names of fallen firefighters, will be built inside Ashburton Park, the lawn bordering the right-hand side of the Statehouse.

“Every single firefighter passes as a hero,” said Norman Knight, president of the Fallen Firefighters Memorial Committee who spoke at yesterday’s press conference, “because everyday they feel the impact of danger. To every firefighter in the state, I take my hat off and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

The memorial, slated for completion in June, will stand opposite the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Memorial which was dedicated to the state’s police officers in May 2004.

The Legislature earmarked $250,000 for the Fallen Firefighters Memorial in 2002, and the memorial committee will raise the remaining $850,000 in part through the sale of bricks that will be placed around the bronze statue.

Money will also be raised through the purchase of new Firefighters Memorial license plates, announced Registrar of Motor Vehicles Anne Collins yesterday.

The plates have a red illustration of a firefighter on the left-hand side. They are available to all Massachusetts drivers for a $40 registration fee, $28 of which will go directly to fund the memorial.

Advance orders for the plates have already raised $70,000, said Collins, who added the memorial “will not only recognize the past… but encourage a new generation of heroes.”

Rep. Bill Greene, D-Billerica, attended the ceremony along with Reps. Charlie Murphy, D-Burlington, Jim Miceli, D-Wilmington and Colleen Garry, D-Dracut.

“This is great. It really honors the fallen firefighters,” he said. “It’s good that it’s been such a statewide effort.”

“Those of us in the Legislature are very cognizant of the sacrifices of our firefighters,” added Miceli. “Every time they go out on a call, there’s the thought they may not be coming back.”

Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2006

Training, courage kick in for cop, firefighter who put lives on the line

Crawling through a burning building to reach a disoriented 50-year-old man who would have died if not for his heroics, off-duty Chicago Fire Department Lt. Joseph Kish could think of only one thing: “Here we go again.”

Three months before the Jan. 25 fire in the 2800 block of South Princeton, Kish was seriously injured while fighting a fire at the shuttered Brach’s Candy complex in the 500 block of North Cicero. He was hospitalized for three weeks. His thigh was so severely burned he needed skin grafts.

On Tuesday, Kish received the Carter Harrison Award, this year’s highest honor for fire bravery, for putting his own life on the line to save another just days before he was scheduled to return to work.

“I hadn’t even gone back to my first 24-hour platoon,” said Kish, 44. “What I did say on the third floor [of the burning building] is, ‘Here we go again.'”

Kish said he didn’t hesitate to enter the building, even though he had no oxygen, helmet or protective gear.

“I’ve been trained by some of the best guys on this job [who] are chiefs now. . . . They don’t teach you [to walk away]. They teach you to do the job the right way,” he said.

The fire broke out about 1:30 p.m. as Kish was doing volunteer work outside St. Jerome School, where his two sons are students.

When a woman told him there was a fire down the street, he ran to check it out. Flames were shooting out a third-floor window.

Firefighter unscathed

Thursday, Oct. 5, 2006

Firefighters rescue trapped man

Praising the near-Herculean efforts of the city’s two newest firefighters, Melrose Fire Chief John O’Brien described their amazing rescue of a man trapped on the second-floor of an apartment building Sunday night.

“I cannot say enough about the men and the tremendous job they did,” he said. “The people of Melrose should be proud of this rescue and the work they did that night.”

A 911 call was received at 10:21 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1 from a resident at 46 Sanford St. saying the building was filling with smoke. Melrose Engines 2 and 3, Ladder Truck 1 and Paramedic 47 were dispatched under the command of Capt. John White, and arrived at the scene 2 1/2 minutes later, the chief said.

Fire Lt. Richard Fink and firefighter Matt Brammer were met with fire on the top floor and a report that a person was trapped. Capt. White ordered a second alarm and responders included Saugus Engine 1, Malden Engine 2, Wakefield Engine 2 as well as ladder trucks from Malden and Medford.

Entering the second floor through a rear stairway, the firefighters encountered thick, black smoke and utter darkness, described by Chief O’Brien as “black as an ink bottle.” Crawling on their abdomens and aided by a thermal imaging camera – but mostly using their hands to feel their way – the firefighters located 38-year-old Robert Hughes in the kitchen area. Hughes, who was burned and had passed out from the smoke inhalation, was close to death, according to O’Brien.

“He was literally seconds away from dying,” O’Brien said. “He’s still in serious condition at Mass General Hospital.”

While still under investigation, for now the fire has been deemed accidental after an investigation by Fire Capt. Collina, Detective Antonangeli and State Trooper O’Donnell. The fire was caused by “careless disposal of smoking materials,” fire officials said. Because it has been ruled accidental no charges will be pressed against Hughes, O’Brien said.

Though Fink and Brammer are the heroes for locating and rescuing Hughes, O’Brien said controlling and putting out the fire was a huge effort of manpower.

“A total of 25 men fought this fire,” he said. “It was under control at 11 p.m.”

O’Brien took the opportunity to remind Melrose residents that the reopening of a nearby fire station likely aided the rescue.

“The response time in the city is now two minutes,” he said. “It proved it Sunday night. Sadly, that woman in Gloucester who died recently in a fire didn’t have to die. It took them 11 minutes to get there because their closest station was shut down.

“We were able to simultaneously attack the fire, conduct the search [for the victim] and establish a water supply, all before the arrival of mutual aid,” O’Brien continued. “This individual [Hughes] lived solely because of the aggressive actions of the Melrose Fire Department.”

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