The 2016 winners, Fairfax County and Los Angeles County Urban Search and Rescue teams, were honored at Fire-Rescue International in San Antonio for their courageous actions under extremely hazardous conditions that saved a life in a severely damaged, rural region of mountainous Nepal, which had been rocked by two devastating earthquakes. A joint nomination to recognize both of these teams was submitted by Chief Richard Bowers, Fairfax County (Va.) Fire and Rescue Department, and Chief Daryl L. Osby, Los Angeles (Calif.) County Fire Department.
In 2016, the IAFC received 16 nominations for the IAFC/Motorola Solutions Ben Franklin Award for Valor—the most nominations received in recent years. Here are the other 2016 nominations:
- Lieutenant Tyler Eads, Firefighter Oscar Granados, Fire Specialist Brad Mendenhall, and Firefighter Matthew McLellan rescued three trapped firefighters in a structural collapse of a condo fire.
Nominating Chief: Rhoda Mae Kerr of the Austin (Texas) Fire Department
- Firefighter Cole Bumbaugh rescued a man from a burning house.
Nominating Chief: William Wishard of the Fayetteville (Pa.) Volunteer Fire Department
- Captain Brian (Keith) Asbury and Master Firefighter Joseph Polozzi rescued a homeowner from a structure fire.
Nominating Chief: Steven Cover of the Virginia Beach (Va.) Fire Department
- Captain Mark Roberts and Firefighter/Medic Leo Harris rescue four firefighters after a roof collapse at an abandoned commercial structure fire.
Nominating Chief: Daryl Osby of the Los Angeles County (Calif.) Fire Department
- Lieutenant John Henderson rescue a two-year old from a house fire.
Nominating Chief: Daniel Besson of the Van Buren (Mich.) Fire Department
- Captain Jeffery Jackson and Firefighter Christopher Mareno rescued a family of five from an apartment fire with no access through doors or windows.
Nominating Chief: James St. John of the Vestavia Hills (Ala.) Fire Department
- Asst. Fire Chief Darren Ware and Retired Lt. Colonel Tyrone Wells, while off duty, rescued a woman from a burning vehicle.
Nominating Chief: Marc S. Bashoor of the Prince George's County (Md.) Fire/EMS Department
John McNicholas of the Chicago Fire Department submitted eight nominations for his department members:
- Deputy District Chief Ronald Dorneker performed a water rescue of one victim in Lake Michigan.
- Battalion Chief James Jablonowski performed a water rescue of one victim in the Chicago River.
- Firefighter Joseph Martinelli rescued a downed firefighter from the second floor of an active fire in a partially-collapsed building.
- Paramedic Field Chief Deborah Sommer, Ambulance Commander Jennifer Schulz, Lieutenant Christopher Serb, Firefighter/EMT Cesar Arroyo, Firefighter/EMT David Pae and Firefighter/EMT Aaron Omaye stopped a vehicle that breached the security line at a parade and was headed toward a patient-collection tent that was 10 people deep.
- Fire Paramedic Wendall Smoot, off duty and only nine months into paramedic training, attended to a motorcycle accident victim on a busy expressway.
- Captain/EMT Michael Spencer rescued one victim from the first floor of an active, heavy structure fire.
- Lieutenant/EMT Lee Sullivan rescued a downed police sergeant and controlled a serious high-rise fire in The John Hancock Building.
- Paramedic/hazmat tech Joseph Summers responded to a distraught female who was holding her baby in a third-floor apartment and was threatening to throw the infant out the window and jump; both lives were saved.
The IAFC and Motorola Solutions salutes all the first responders nominated for their skillful and courageous acts in saving lives and thanks each nominating fire chief for their submissions this year.