Four Grandview Heights firefighters earned the Fire Service Award of Merit during the 23rd annual Columbus Division of Fire awards banquet, held last Thursday, Oct. 11.
Jim Dugger, Josh Harris, Mike Shimko and Mike Smith were recognized for the part they played in rescuing Madelynn Reid from a fire that started Oct. 21, 2011, in her unit in the four-apartment building at the corner of North Star and West Third avenues.
The Grandview firefighters rushed to the scene after a group of Grandview Heights High School football parents who discovered the fire called 911. The parents, who just happened to be waiting in the parking lot at the high school football field for the team to return from an away game, roused residents from two other apartments in the building. They made contact with Reid, but the smoke and fire inside the apartment proved too heavy for them to safely enter the unit.
Firefighters from Columbus Fire Department Station 25 arrived first on the scene.
"They were probably 100 yards or about 20 or 30 seconds ahead of us," Dugger said.
Dugger and Shimko helped to make sure water was flowing from nearby hydrants while Smith and Harris entered the building, assisting a Station 25 firefighter's handling and use of the fire hose to put out the blaze.
"The hose had a knot in it that we had to take care of," Dugger said. "That's not unusual."
Aside from that issue, "everything worked just like it was supposed to," Smith said. "Everything came together and that was because we're used to working with those guys" from Station 25.
"All the training and experience really pays off when something like this happens," Dugger said.
Inside the apartment building, "it was dark. You could really feel the heat from the fire, but you couldn't see your hand in front of you because of the smoke," Harris said.
It was fortunate that a Columbus firefighter who entered the bathroom where Reid was trapped made an instinctive decision to close the door behind him, he said.
If he had tried to bring the woman immediately out of the bathroom and into the hallway, which was in engulfed in flames and smoke, "she never would have made it," Harris said.
The fire was put out within several minutes. Reid was brought out and firefighters performed CPR on her before transporting her to a hospital in critical condition with severe burns.
"Once you hear that a live victim is in the building, it's like a car accident, where everything slows down while it's happening," Harris said. "And yet, the time also goes by fast."
Knowing the fire was put out and the victim rescued, "it gives you a great sense of accomplishment and pride," Dugger said.
"You don't reflect on it too long," Smith said, because "in another 30 minutes we might have to be out fighting another serious fire."