By by Sgt. Philip KleinJanuary 11, 2010
The Department of the Army recently presented the Fort Carson Fire and Emergency Services with the 2008 Heroism Award.
The Department of the Army presents heroism awards to fire and emergency services teams and individuals to recognize superb actions and accomplishments; and to honor those that have made significant contributions to their communities, said Fort Carson Fire Chief Glen Silloway.
"It is a great honor to receive Army-level award in back-to-back years and we are very proud of our personnel" said Silloway.
The team heroism award honored FCFD Deputy Chief Michael Orr, Capts. Louis Montoya and Randy Chambers, and firefighters Cheston Souza, Thomas Devlin, William Toal and Bart Kimber; for their role in assisting the Pueblo Fire Department after an explosion leveled a building in Pueblo.
The Department of the Army presented the firefighters the award at the annual Department of Defense Fire and Emergency Services Training Conference held in Dallas, Aug. 28.
The Army awarded the commendation based upon the Mountain Post fire department's response to an explosion that leveled the Branch Inn restaurant at approximately 2 p.m. in the historic district of Pueblo, Nov. 13, 2008. The result of the explosion left one person dead and six injured.
Silloway said FCFD dispatched our Heavy Rescue and Collapse Rescue Team to support the City of Pueblo Fire Department during search and rescue operations.
FCFD sends the emergency response teams as part of their mutual aid agreements with regional neighbors, he explained.
"As part of Colorado's Urban Search and Rescue team we train with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for just these types of situations," said Orr.
In addition to the collapsed building, the team had to deal with a natural gas leak, water filling the basement of the structure, and a fire.
Utilizing a search camera, a device used to remotely explore collapsed and unstable structures, the team located a citizen buried in the demolished restaurant.
"Our five-inch monitor showed the team that the camera was face-to-face with a survivor still trapped in the destroyed structure - he was staring right at us," said Devlin.
The team tested several options for removing the male survivor from the wreckage.
Once it was determined that there was no safe method of rescue from underneath the rubble, the emergency responders used their knowledge of structural collapse to set about removing the wreckage on top of him.
Relying on their training and expertise, the team carefully removed the debris and successfully freed the victim from the debris.
This is the second year that Fort Carson earned the Department of the Army honor.