Although police and fire forces often have a sense of friendly competition, none of that was evident at a recent meeting of Sylvania Township trustees when Police Chief Paul Long turned toward Fire Chief Mike Ramm and voiced all-out praise for what he saw at a neighboring house recently.
A fire alarm had come in just before midnight July 3 and the commotion awoke the chief who went outside to find flames and heavy smoke coming primarily from the attached garage area of the neighboring house.
He said during initial firefighting procedures it became known that his elderly neighbor was in the house.
Two firefighters entered the house “and I don’t know how they got him out. It was unbelievable,” he said.
Chief Ramm later explained that Lt. Steve Kahan and firefighter Tyler Bellman had a sense of the layout of the home and the victim’s wife had said he was likely in the bedroom.
“They were able to go straight up the stairs to the second floor and when they got there they turned to the right and went to that bedroom.”
Had they initially gone to the first room to the left there might not have been time to continue the search.
The chief put his hand about a foot in front of his face and said, “they wouldn’t have been able to see their hands. The smoke was that thick.”
There are procedures by which firefighters can use feel to search while also keeping a method of escape if they must retreat.
Adding to the danger of the incident, the chief noted that the flames were still roiling in the garage directly under the bedroom, increasing the potential of the floor caving in.
The chief said the man was found on his bed and the firefighters were able to get him out. They were met by rescue squad members, Kirk Wolfe and Joseph Fritz who began medical procedures and then transported him to the hospital.
The scene left Chief Long with admiration for the actions of the fire personnel.
Because of the amount of flames and heavy smoke, “If you get turned around in there, you don’t come out alive,” he said.
Chief Ramm said, “We have a saying, ‘Risk nothing to save nothing. Risk a lot to save a lot.’ We’re here to protect life and property, and life is a lot.”
Nevertheless, Chief Ramm added, “They went way over and above,” to save the man’s life.
He stressed that it is situations like that which is the payoff for training. “We go over and over procedures. Sometimes they are things we hope we never use, but enough training can help make some of the methods automatic.”
Unfortunately, the victim died days later in the hospital.
Chief Long said that police officers are not strangers to danger, but if there’s a bad guy with a gun, “I can shoot him, but flames…?” he said shaking his head. He added that his home and the house on the other side of the one on fire were saved from damage.
Chief Ramm said it’s his belief that the heroic actions by the two firefighters who went into the burning house would have been taken by any Sylvania Township firefighter placed in the same situation.
Posted: July 23, 2019
Written by: Mike Jones, Public Information Officer
Stay up to date with Sylvania Township!
View a map of our important landmarks and offices.