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The Ontario Medal For Firefighter Bravery

Archived Backgrounder

The Ontario Medal For Firefighter Bravery

Backgrounder

Ministry of the Solicitor General

The Ontario Medal for Firefighter Bravery was created in 1976 and is
awarded annually.

Ontario Medal for Firefighter Bravery Recipients:

Lieutenant John Chatterton
Ottawa Fire Services

Just after noon on February 12, 2007, firefighters from the Fire Station
11 D Platoon were headed for drill practice when an alarm came in from a home
on Forward Avenue in Ottawa. Arriving first on the scene, Lieutenant
Chatterton and his crew went into the house to search for anyone left inside.
A light smoky haze wafted through the home. As the crew moved quickly through
the house, they determined that all the occupants had left. Heading back
downstairs, the situation changed rapidly. Visibility was reduced to zero. The
smoke and heat became so intense, they knew they had to get out. Disoriented
by the heavy smoke and feeling the burn from the extreme heat, Lieutenant
Chatterton led his crew upstairs to a third floor room where he remembered
there was a window and told firefighters the only way out was for them to jump
to safety. Lieutenant Chatterton ensured his crew were first to leave the
building. Knowing someone could be seriously injured if he landed on them, he
waited for his crew to be cleared from the landing zone before he finally
jumped. As a result, he suffered second-degree burns. Lieutenant Chatterton's
selfless act of remaining in the unbearable heat while his crew was removed to
safety exemplifies his leadership and courage.

Firefighter Les O'Neill
North Middlesex Fire Department

Volunteer firefighter Les O'Neill was already at work at a cement plant in
Parkhill in the early morning hours of November 7, 2007, when he heard an
alarm had been received by the nearby Parkhill Station of the North Middlesex
Fire Department. Firefighter O'Neill responded immediately to the scene just
two streets over where he discovered thick black smoke coming out of the
house. Several bystanders told him an elderly woman might still be trapped
inside. Although O'Neill's fire gear had not arrived yet, he did not hesitate
to put his life on the line. Forcing the rear door open, he found the house
filled with heavy smoke and blistering heat. Once inside, O'Neill searched
until he found an elderly person lying on the floor. He pulled the victim out
of the burning house and laid her on the ground. Paramedics arrived on the
scene shortly after and tried to revive the 91-year-old woman. Sadly, she was
later pronounced dead. Firefighter O'Neill showed boundless courage when he
attempted to save the life of this victim without regard for his own life.

Firefighter Steven Reynolds
Milton Fire Department

On Sunday evening, December 2, 2007, off duty Firefighter Steve Reynolds
was filling up at a service centre in Milton when he spotted a woman calling
for help near the parking lot. Firefighter Reynolds approached the distraught
woman and noticed she was holding a samurai sword. He asked her to put the
sword down and then she quickly became aggressive. He ran inside the gas
station to call 911 and he held the doors closed but she used the sword to
break the glass windows and doors and get inside. She walked toward the two
attendants, giving Firefighter Reynolds an opportunity to prevent her attack
from behind. Although she quickly spun around and cut his arm severely,
Firefighter Reynolds pinned her against the counter giving the attendants a
chance to take over and restrain her until the police arrived. Without doubt,
Firefighter Reynolds saved the two attendants' lives despite his injury.

Firefighter Michael Sophocleous
London Fire Department

A three-storey walk-up apartment building in London caught fire in the
early hours of December 9, 2007. Police on scene reported that the building
had been evacuated and all the occupants were out. Tenants on all floors were
accounted for with the exception of a woman who called the fire department to
say she was trapped in the apartment directly above the fire. Through the
heavy smoke, Firefighter Sophocleous spotted her at a window. With a 12-foot
ladder in hand, Firefighter Sophocleous was forced to step over a three-foot
fence to get into position where he could rescue the woman. After he climbed
over the fence, he landed in a shallow hollow filled with snow, stumbled and
fell, injuring his shoulder. Undeterred by the pain, Firefighter Sophocleous
regained his foothold, set the ladder in position and climbed up to the window
where the woman was last seen. Despite suffering from what was later diagnosed
as a broken left shoulder, Firefighter Sophocleous persevered in his rescue
efforts and successfully removed the trapped woman and brought her to safety.

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