Saginaw firefighters honored for saving 6 lives

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SAGINAW (WJRT) - (10/08/19) - The Saginaw Fire Department remembered lives lost and celebrated lives saved at an annual event Tuesday morning.

The Awards and Memorial Ceremony honored firefighters, other emergency responders from neighboring departments, and everyday people.

They also paid tribute to Saginaw firefighters who died in the line of duty.

Saginaw Fire Chief Chris Van Loo thanked his team for their hard work. "You truly deliver every time. I couldn't ask more," he said.

Firefighters were honored in several categories including the Certificate of Merit, Unit Citation, Life Saving Award, Meritorious Service Award, and Firefighter of the Year.

Others were honored in the Civilian Certificate of Merit Award and Civilian Meritorious Service Award categories.

Chief Van Loo is proud of the six lives his team saved during four fires.

One of those fires was on March 20, 2019 in the 2200 block of S. Niagara Street.

Lt. James Fourman shared what happened that day, starting with the first lieutenant who made his way inside.

"He was able to get in right away and rescue one of the children from the bedroom," Lt. Fourman said. "They had their bedroom doors closed."

The closed doors gave the kids enough air to survive until they firefighters got them both outside.

A woman was rescued from the basement that day too, totaling three lives saved.

Lt. Fourman said he and another firefighter went in the rear door knowing sometimes people get disoriented when they try to escape. "Lot of times people make it maybe to the door, but they don't make it out," he explained.

A total of ten firefighters were honored for the Niagara Street fire. Three, including Lt. Fourman earned a Meritorious Served Award, while the others received the Unit Citation for their work.

Another life was saved on July 20, 2019 at a fire in the 1100 block of Lyon Street.

"There was smoke coming upstairs," explained David Gallagher, who earned the Firefighter of the Year Award. "My lieutenant was there previously and installed smoke detectors, so he knew a family was in that apartment."

Saginaw firefighters have spent a lot of time installing free smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in city homes.

Several have alerted families to the fire in their home, but in this case it helped firefighters know who needed help.

With the family out of one of the two apartments in the home, Firefighter Gallagher and others made their way into the next apartment.

They rescued a man who was asleep with the fire burning in his apartment.

Firefighter Gallagher is humbled his co-workers chose him for this honor. "The men and woman that came before me, who hand down the tradition of how to be a Saginaw firefighter, and how we train and how many fires we do get, that's what, why we can do what we do," Firefighter Gallagher said.

Everyday people were honored as well including Cameron Napier, 15, who heard the smoke detectors installed by Saginaw firefighters, and was able to guide his brother to safety along with himself.

Lt. Fourman said each save is just part of their job and their training kicks in, but after the fire is out reality often sets in. "You sit there, and you just thank God that how blessed you were to get one of our citizens out of a bad situation," he said.

The Awards and Memorial Ceremony is always held during Fire Prevention Week.

This year's theme is, "Not Every Hero Wears a Cape".

The National Fire Prevention Association is asking families to plan and practice their escape. Click on the 'Related Link' with this story to learn more.

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