Laurel Volunteer Chief Awarded for Rescue of Fire Captain After Stairs Collapsed

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

The Volunteer Chief of the Laurel Fire Department was recognized today for his rescue of a Prince George's County Fire Captain that was on a set of steps that collapsed underneath of him while battling a townhouse fire.  The Fire Captain that was rescued was on hand to thank him.  Officials from the City of Laurel, PGFD Command Staff, 6th battalion Commander Phil Bird, Volunteer Fire/Rescue Association President Chuck Walker, Laurel volunteers and 6th Battalion firefighters were on hand for the award presentation held at the Laurel Fire Department on Cherry Lane.

On Sunday, July 12, 2015 firefighters from Laurel and Calverton and Battalion Chief 886 were dispatched for a reported townhouse fire at 9418 Riverbrink Court in Howard County. Volunteer Chief 810 Duane Hull also responded.  Calverton Engine PE841 was dispatched as the 2nd due engine company.  PE841 arrived on the scene and picked up Howard County E111’s supply line at the hydrant in the 9300 block of Harvest Way.  The crew lead by Captain Donald Fletcher, advanced a 400 foot attack line from Harvest Way and was the first attack line inside the building on the front side of the building.

The crew from PE841 extinguished the bulk of the fire on the first floor before they began to advance to the second floor due to vertical extension. Volunteer Chief Hull was operating on the interior and ascended the steps to the second floor to shut the bedroom door to keep fire from extending into the second floor hallway.  Prior to the crew from PE841 beginning to make the climb up to the second floor, Captain Fletcher started up the stairs first to clear some debris from the path for the hose line crew.  Chief Hull felt the stairs were a little spongy as he ascended the steps and feared they may be compromised.  Chief Hull turned to warn the crew from PE841, when he heard Captain Fletcher call out to him saying that he had fallen waist deep into a hole on the stairs and needed help to get out.

As Captain Fletcher reached the top of the stairs, the stairs under him gave way.  He reached out and grabbed a “red hot” metal handrail on the stairs to keep from falling completely through the hole to the floor below, until he could be removed from the hole.  Captain Fletcher was wedged tightly in the hole and was unable to reach his radio to call for a mayday.

Chief Hull grabbed Captain Fletcher by his self-contained breathing apparatus harness and pulled him to safety.  PE841’s hose line crew was able to get the hose line up the stairs over the compromised stair and extinguish the fire on the second floor.  An attic ladder was later brought in to bridge the hole in the stairs.  If it were not for Chief Hull’s quick thinking, Captain Fletcher may have fallen completely through the stairs sustaining more serious injuries.

Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor presented Volunteer Chief Hull with an Emergency Services Award today.  Captain Fletcher was on hand as well during the award presentation.  Chief Bashoor stated, "Chief Hull's actions are in the highest traditions of the fire service and he is hereby commended for his actions.  His actions reflect favorably upon himself, the Laurel Volunteer Fire Department and Prince George's County."

Bashoor is recommending that Hull be considered for a valor award in April 2016.

Fire Chief Bashoor, Laurel Volunteer Chief Hull and Fire Captain Donny Fletcher

Volunteer Chief Hull is congratulated by Fire Captain Fletcher