By Lisa R. RhodesSeptember 23, 2011
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - When firefighter Christopher Smith, a driver/operator with the post Fire Department, joined his crew to respond to a kitchen fire in Odenton three weeks ago, he could not foresee that his speedy reaction would save a life.
But on Sept. 4, at 4:57 a.m., when Smith and the members of Fort Meade's Fire Truck 45 responded to a town house fire on Eagle Court in support of the 28th Odenton Volunteer Fire Department of Anne Arundel County, he wound up being a hero to one lucky dog.
A family of eight had escaped the fire, but the family's 14-year-old pit bull remained behind.
Smith was among the three Fort Meade firefighters who entered the burning, three-level home to ventilate the premises and conduct a search and rescue. The fire blazed in the kitchen and in the living room.
When Smith searched the second floor, he found the unconscious pit bull in a bedroom filled with dark smoke. Smith radioed for emergency medical services, then carried the dog outside to safety.
An ambulance had already arrived. Emergency responders gave the pet oxygen with a mask designed specifically for dogs. The pit bull was resuscitated.
By the time Smith and his crew had finished their job, the dog was up and walking and drinking water.
"The family was appreciative and thanked us for getting him out," said Smith, 28, a Fort Meade firefighter for eight years. "It feels pretty good. I honestly didn't think he was going to make it."
Capt. William Magers, Smith's supervisor for two years, helped conduct the search and rescue. He said although it is routine for Fort Meade firefighters to assist Anne Arundel County in an emergency, he was not surprised by Smith's efforts.
"To me, Chris is my firefighter of the year," Magers said. "He loves his job and he's very good at his job. He's dedicated, hardworking, knowledgeable and he has a good attitude."
Smith, who also serves with the Frederick County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, said this is the first time he has saved a family pet. Throughout the years, however, he has worked with fire crews that have saved dogs during a search and rescue.
When the fire crew returned to the installation, Magers posted the news about Smith on his Facebook page. He later presented the firefighter with the department's Trophy of Life. The trophy, meant to boost morale, is made of aluminum foil in the shape of a dog's face.
Smith said he was only doing his job.
"I'm not much on fame," he said. "It's a crew effort."