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Friday, December 14, 2012

13-Year-Old Receives Fire Chiefs Award for Bravery


MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

A 13-year-old was recognized today by the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department for his actions in rescuing his mother from their burning Lanham Home.  On Thursday, November 29, 2012, firefighters and paramedics were dispatched to a house fire with a report of a person trapped inside.  It was about 9:30 pm when firefighters arrived at the 2-story home in the 6300 block of Naval Avenue in Lanham and encountered heavy fire conditions inside the house.

Prior to the Fire Departments arrival, 13-year-old house resident Taji Lee was able to run to a neighbor’s house and alert them to the fire and asked them to call 911.  It was then that Taji returned and carried his mother out of the burning home “fireman style” to the safety of the exterior.

Karen Lee suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS) and has limited mobility.
If it had not been for the efforts of 8th grader Taji Lee in rescuing his mother it is quite possible she may have suffered fatal injuries.  Taji, his mother and sister made it out of the house without injury.  Their home was severely damaged by the fire but they are safe.

Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor, Prince George’s County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Alvin L. Crawley and Board of Education Member Patricia Eubanks recognized Taji this morning at a school assembly and presented him with the Fire Chiefs Award.

The award was presented in front of with Taji’s parent, school officials, teachers and fellow 8th grade students at the Thomas Johnson Middle School, 5401 Barker Place, in Lanham.  Taji’s mother, Karen Lee, spoke of the events of the night of the fire and how proud she is of her son.  Taji himself answered questions from the media about that night and demonstrated how he picked his mother up and removed her from the house.

“It is not a usual day when the fire chief has the opportunity to recognize a young man’s special actions...even more unusual because they're not just special, but heroic efforts that saved a life - And then not just a life but the life of his mother.” Said Fire Chief Bashoor.  He continued to describe the events on the night of November 29th, “Firefighters and paramedics arrived at the Lee household to find fire shooting out of the windows and attic area.  An original 911 report of people trapped was unfounded, unfounded because AFTER Taji went next door to alert 911, he returned to the burning home and with the calm and courage of a seasoned veteran rescuer, carried his trapped mother out of the home to safety.”

Fire Chief Bashoor explained how he visited with the family that night, while they were being warmed up in an ambulance - they had no idea who he was, and he had no idea at the time, that he was in the company of a true hero, in Taji.

In making the Fire Chiefs Award presentation Bashoor said, “I know we are at school today, so it is incumbent upon me to teach a lesson – but you can't teach heroism.  So the short lesson I’ll teach, is that heroism happens - sometimes heroism happens because people have learned, developed, and then practiced the selfless traits of calm and courage, and sometimes heroism just happens, because someone was in the right place-at the right time- and does the right things to make a difference at that moment.”  

He presented the award saying, “Taji, it is with all off those things in mind, that I am honored to once again be with you – to recognize your calm courage and heroism under fire.  It is my distinct honor and privilege to present you with this Fire Chiefs Award for heroism and special achievement.”


video
Prince George’s County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Alvin L. Crawley (podium) and Board of Education Member Patricia Eubanks and Fire Chief Marc Bashoor during award ceremony.
Prince George’s County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Alvin L. Crawley congratulates 8th grade student Taji Lee on his accomplishments  
Chief Bashoor speaks as Taji, his parents and school officials watch.
Fire Chiefs Award presented to Taji Lee

Taji describes his actions that night.
Taji, standing with his father, remained cool and confident under the glare of the media spotlight after the award presentation. 
Taji, standing with his father, remained cool and confident under the glare of the media spotlight after the award presentation. 

Firefighter/Medics meet Taji and congratulate him on receiving the Fire Chiefs Award.

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