The story began nearly six months ago with a panicked 911 call: "He’s killing my children! Get my children out!"
Today, it ends with six rescuers being honored for their bravery at Fire-Rescue International.
North Metro Fire Rescue Crew 63 of Broomfield/Northglenn, Colo. — includes Bttn. Chief Timothy Hanlon, Lt. John Maes, and Firefighters Josh Hamilton, Josh Deuto, John Brereton and Mark Maxwell — received the 2012 International Benjamin Franklin Fire Service Award for Valor.
"These responders overcame all of the elements of a perfect storm — a deranged husband, his battered wife, barricaded doors, an intentional fire and two young children trapped on the second floor of their home,"President Al Gillespie said. "These fearless firefighters worked closely with law enforcement and paramedics to save lives … and offers a compelling display of teamwork and courage."
On Feb. 23, police officers dispatched to a Northglenn, Colo., duplex to find the woman outside, bruised and bloodied by her estranged husband who barricaded himself and her children on the second floor of their home. The armed man also set fire to the stairs leading to the upstairs.
After law enforcement cleared a route, Rescue Crew 63 used charged hoses to push past the fire and smoke to gain access to the second floor. Outside, Deuto attended to the hoses and to the mother. Inside, Maes directed the crew. Hamilton and Maxwell located the unconscious husband in a bedroom — lighter in hand and weapon nearby — and pulled him to safety.
Brereton reached another bedroom and pulled an unconscious 18-month-old child from the heavy smoke and heat. He carried him outside to Hanlon, who was serving as the incident commander, who began CPR before the paramedics took over.
Maes discovered in a third bedroom an unconscious 5-year-old child with significant burns over 60% of her body. After rescuing her, Maes and Brereton returned to rescue the family’s large, unconscious dog.
"In the midst of an unthinkable situation, you acted with unmistakable bravery," Kelly Kirwan, corporate vice president at award co-sponsor, told the rescuers. "Your achievements are an inspiration to firefighters around the world; your efforts exemplify everything the Benjamin Franklin Award for Valor represents."
Within minutes, the crew rescued three people from the fire, treated and transported six people to local hospitals — including two police officers suffering from smoke inhalation — and transported the dog to an emergency veterinary clinic.
“Our crews see it all — the good, the bad and the unfortunate,” Chief Joseph Bruce said of the rescue. “It is nothing but an honor to have personnel who display true courage and professionalism when times get tough.”
The award — co-sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and Motorola Solutions — recognizes firefighters around the world for their expert training, leadership, heroic actions and safe practices and is the highest honor bestowed by the IAFC.
Successful rescues like these are rare in such perilous situations, yet Rescue Crew 63 — with proper training, equipment and best practices — pushed passed the dangers repeatedly to save lives," Kirwan said. "Due to their heroism, the two children are alive today and have a chance at life."