Two Brownwood firefighters received the department’s second-highest award Tuesday for their actions in rescuing a woman from a smoke-filled house in Bangs.
Acting on Fire Chief Del Albright’s letter of citation, Mayor Bert Massey presented the Distinguished Service Medal to firefighters Shannon Stone and Jody Horton at the Brownwood City Council meeting.
Albright said the firefighters saved the life of the woman, who is in her 70s, in the Sept. 29 incident.
Brownwood firefighters Stone, Horton, Chris Hill and Ron Groom, and Bangs firefighters responded to a report of a structure fire with a person trapped inside around 1 a.m., Albright said. There was no fire, but the house, part of a duplex on Kyle Street, was filled with thick smoke caused by beans left cooking on the stove.
The smoke was at floor level, and Stone and Horton found the woman lying on her bedroom floor, semi-conscious and suffering from smoke inhalation, Albright said. A telephone was in her hand, and the line was still open with a 9-1-1 dispatcher when the firefighters reached her.
They carried her outside, and she was given oxygen, then hospitalized for several days.
Albright said he was out of town at the time, but when he read the report and learned more about the incident, “I found out that a life was saved in adverse conditions.”
“I commend these men for their dedication, professionalism and bravery in performing the above actions and do award them the Brownwood Fire Department’s Distinguished Service Award,” Albright’s letter of citation said.
As smoke filled the woman’s house, it began drifting into the other half of the duplex, prompting a woman who lives there to call 9-1-1, Albright said.
As firefighters arrived, the fire truck’s headlights brushed across the house and they could see smoke coming out the doors, windows and eaves, Stone said.
Firefighters forced the door open, and Stone and Horton went inside. “I just saw the smoke,” Stone said. “It was heavy smoke. It was real thick.”
He crouched down and saw that Horton was already in the bedroom, where the woman lay on the floor.
Horton took the phone from the woman’s hand and told the dispatcher that the firefighters had her. The two picked her up in a two-man carry — one at the head, one at the feet — and got her outside.
“It was pretty fast and smooth,” Horton said.
After rescuers gave the woman oxygen, she began coming around and breathing easier, Stone said. He said she wanted to know why she was outside and who all the people were.
Stone and Horton said they were just doing their jobs.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Stone said, noting that any other firefighters would have done same thing.
“It’s part of your job,” Horton said. “I’m glad she survived. That’s my job. That’s what we do. We did our job and got it done.”
The woman, who asked that her name not be used in a Bulletin article, said she went down when her knees buckled. She said she appreciated the job the firefighters did but did not believe she had suffered from smoke inhalation or needed rescuing.
“It could have been a death, that’s for sure,” Albright said. “Smoke kills — not the fire, usually.”
Albright said the firefighters weren’t making “a big deal” out of their actions, but “I’m making a big deal out of it,” he said.
He said it was important for him to “recognize my firefighters for doing their job professionally, and doing it all the way.
“ … When the chips are down, they’re showing me the can do their job.”