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Backgrounder - The Ontario Medal for Firefighter Bravery

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Backgrounder - The Ontario Medal for Firefighter Bravery

Ministry of the Solicitor General

The Ontario Medal for Firefighter Bravery was created in 1976 and is awarded annually to honour firefighters that have gone above and beyond to protect and serve their community.

Ontario Medal for Firefighter Bravery Recipients:

Firefighter Dave Evans
Fire and Emergency Services

On February 15, 2011, Dave Evans, an off-duty firefighter was having lunch when his meal was interrupted by the sound of a smoke detector coming from an apartment above the restaurant. Smelling smoke and learning that a 60-year-old woman who was dependent on an oxygen tank lived upstairs, Firefighter Evans ran up to make the rescue. Kicking down the front door, he was confronted by a 'flashover', a dangerous situation where smoke ignites to flame.

The apartment was engulfed and after calling out for the woman, Firefighter Evans realized she was trapped in the kitchen. After at least eight attempts, and without protective gear or a breathing apparatus, he finally overcame the intense heat and thick black smoke. Firefighter Evans was able to locate the woman and carry her to safety with assistance from a citizen who had gone upstairs to help.

The woman was hospitalized with second and third degree burns but survived. Firefighter Evans, who will be retiring next year, was treated for smoke inhalation and released. His quick actions, taken despite the lack of proper equipment, saved her life.

Firefighters Timothy Howson, Jim Lavoie and Gilles Leduc
Fire Department

In the early hours of November 21, 2010, Timmins fire, ambulance and police were dispatched to a fire at a two-storey duplex. Firefighter Timothy Howson, from the volunteer brigade, was responding to the fire hall when his pager went off. Since he lived up the street from the fire he decided to assist immediately. As he arrived he saw a teenage boy hanging from a second floor window wanting to jump. He was also confronted by a screaming woman who told him young children were still inside. The woman then ran back into the burning house just as Constable Nicholas Moland-Osborne arrived.

Both men entered the house without protective equipment or a breathing apparatus. Familiar with the floor plan, Firefighter Howson was able to navigate upstairs and into a bedroom despite intense heat and thick black smoke. He felt a child's foot, dragged her to him, picked her up and went back downstairs where he handed her to the constable.

As the first fire truck arrived Firefighter Howson was back outside urging the teenager to not jump. A man who had been dragged out by Constable Moland-Osborne was lying by the side door and appeared to be unconscious. Firefighters Gilles Leduc and Jim Lavoie erected a ladder to rescue the youth. Firefighter Leduc scaled back up the ladder and entered the house through the second floor window without a hose line. At the same time, Lavoie entered the house from the side door and was able to extinguish the fire on the first floor.

It is extremely risky for teams of firefighters to separate in such situations, but Firefighters Leduc and Lavoie felt they had no choice if they wanted to rescue the occupants. While on the second floor Firefighter Leduc met a disoriented woman trying to find her one-year old baby. He had to forcibly remove her from the house. He then rejoined his partner, and the two firefighters went upstairs, found the baby and carried him to safety. Unfortunately, the man pulled out of the house died of smoke inhalation, but the selfless actions of these three firefighters prevented an even greater tragedy from unfolding.

Constable Nicholas Moland-Osborne will receive the Ontario Medal for Police Bravery for his actions during this rescue.

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