Recognizing 2017 Ben Franklin Valor Award Nominees

In 2017, the IAFC received eight nominations for the IAFC/Motorola Solutions Ben Franklin Award for Valor. This year’s winner was an emergency-response team from the Monroe (Ohio) Fire Department, whose members acted with courage and expertise to save the lives of several senior citizens trapped on the top floor of an assisted-living facility, directly under a burning roof. The fire was caused by four independent, simultaneous lightning strikes.

Medals were presented at FRI’s general session on July 27 in Charlotte, North Carolina, to:

  • Lieutenant Scott Clasgens
  • Lieutenant Chris Marker
  • Lieutenant Russell Rickard
  • Fire Medic Josh Spradling
  • Fire Medic Paul Peters

2017 Nominations

Fire Specialist Demetrius Countouriotis rescued an emotionally-distressed woman from the ledge of a highway overpass who was threatening to jump to her death.
Nominating Chief: Brian Tanzola, Austin (Texas) Fire Department

Firefighter William Monaco rescued an unresponsive 16-year old female victim from her first-floor bedroom under dark, heavy smoke conditions. The victim was transported to a local hospital and stabilized; later, she was transported to the area hyperbaric chamber. Three days after the rescue, the victim was extubated and is expected to live a normal life.
Nominating Chief: Mark Nielsen, Chicago Fire Department

Assistant Fire Chief John Whalen, while driving to the public-safety complex, heard a call for service for a potential drowning incident involving a city landscaping worker in the canal. Arriving on scene before the rescue squad and concluding that the victim may only have seconds to live, the nominee, without diving equipment, went into the canal’s dark, 13-feet-deep waters and searched underwater by hand for the victim. He located the victim, who he brought to the surface, and fire and EMS units, now on scene, provided medical care and transport. The 35-year-old victim survived.
Nominating Chief: Frank Babinec, Coral Springs (Fla.) Fire Department

Captain David Bell, Firefighter Jason Kirchner, and Fire Apparatus Operator Joe Zoffoli rescued an adult male from a third-floor condo balcony in dark, heavy smoke conditions.
Nominating Chief: Brad Tadlock, Hilton Head (S.C.) Island Fire Rescue

Firefighter Lonnie Wimmer (Lewisville Fire Department) and Fire Marshal Ricky Leonard (Yadkin County), off duty and attending a party at a restaurant, noticed patrons suffering from headaches and nausea. Based on the symptoms and the number of people involved, they suspected carbon monoxide was the cause and initiated a safe evacuation of 30 victims; 16 were transported to local hospitals for treatment. High levels of carbon monoxide were later confirmed.
Nominating Chief: Scott Alderman, Lewisvile (N.C.) Fire Department

Acting Lieutenant Marcus McGee, Firefighter Korey Pettiford, Firefighter Parker Ramsey, and Firefighter Carlos Samuels rescued an infant covered in soot from a second-floor apartment bedroom under dark, heavy smoke conditions moments before flashover. The infant suffered only minor injuries; she was treated at the hospital and released the next day.
Nominating Chief: I. David Daniels, Richmond (Va.) Department of Fire and Emergency Services

Firefighter Dave Dame and Firefighter Seth Major rescued a trapped five-year-old girl from her second-floor bedroom closet in pitch-black, smoke-filled conditions. The rescue was completed less than two minutes after arrival. The victim suffered no notable injures.
Nominating Chief: Don Lombardi, West Metro (Colo.) Fire Rescue

The IAFC and Motorola Solutions thank each nominating fire chief for their submissions and salute all the first responders nominated for their skillful and courageous acts in saving lives. Each deserves recognition.

Since 1970, the Ben Franklin Award for Valor award has recognized emergency responders from around the world for their expert training, leadership, heroic actions, safe practices and dedication to the duty displayed in saving a human life. Named after Benjamin Franklin, the nation’s first fire chief, it is the highest honor bestowed by the IAFC.

The nomination period for 2018 Valor Award opens February 1. Check the IAFC website for details


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