This morning during a meeting of the Los Angeles Fire Commission, the executive leadership of the Los Angeles Fire Department formally recognized a trio of Firefighters from LAFD Station 9 for saving the lives of several persons trapped inside a burning building.
The incident took place on the rainy morning of February 14, 2019, when LAFD Task Force 9 and crews from neighboring stations responded to a structure fire on Ceres Avenue in the Central City East neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles.
With heavy rain causing smoke to lay low, the fire seemed to have initially gone unnoticed to those nearby, until it grew to potentially lethal proportions.
LAFD Truck 9 arrived quickly to find a significant volume of smoke showing from a commercial structure. A report by LAPD Officers at-the-scene that civilians may be trapped inside was soon confirmed as shouts and screams could be heard from deep within what proved to be a two-story business.
The fire on the 2nd floor had indeed grown in size, cutting off the main exit and trapping six employees inside the burning building. Those employes resorted to seeking an alternate exit on the first floor, but that escape route proved fruitless due to a series of three sturdy key-locked doors that appeared to seal the workers' fate.
Fortunately the crew from LAFD Station 9 was there.
Firefighter Navarro commenced forcible entry and was soon joined by Firefighter/Paramedics Oransky and Norton in a now-or-never attempt to rescue the trapped workers. Because of the sturdiness and complexity of multiple doors with extensive locks, it took all three crew members from Station 9 working in unison to gain entry. Once in, they swiftly assisted the safe escape of three civilians, who mentioned there were more people in peril behind them.
Knowing that conditions inside the heat- and smoke-charged building were untenable, and that those in peril were directly behind the trio just rescued, the three firefighters, without regard for their own safety and without breathing apparatus facepieces or hoselines for protection, rushed together inside as a team to performing a rapid systematic search of the area just inside the doors, where they found and ultimately rescued an additional three trapped and disoriented civilians.
While the six civilians ultimately decided not to seek prehospital care, it was profoundly evident that had it not been for the selfless coordinated action of the three firefighters, the incident would have had a truly grave outcome.
Expressing his extreme pride in the trio of rescuers, their Captains and colleagues, Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas presented formal Certificates of Appreciation to:
- Firefighter III Antonio M. Navarro
- Firefighter III / Paramedic Steven C. Oransky
- Firefighter III / Paramedic John P. Norton
"In recognition and sincere gratitude for your heroic courage, diligent efforts, personal initiative and expedient assistance which directly resulted in the saving of multiple lives during a structure fire on February, 14, 2019 in the 700 block of Ceres Avenue in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Fire Department officially commends you for extraordinary lifesaving efforts to citizens of the City of Los Angeles. Presented this 18th day of June, 2019. Signed, Ralph M. Terrazas, Fire Chief".
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