Firefighters honored for heroism

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

A quiet early morning turned into a life-threatening situation for residents when a fire ravaged their Groveport Road home in Canal Winchester.

Firefighters were honored on June 18 by the Madison Township trustees and fire department for their rescue and firefighting actions on June 1 in response to the fire in the single story ranch home.

Madison Township Fire Chief Robert Bates said firefighters battled their way through the burning house to rescue Josh Coyle and Jessica Moore from the basement of the burning house.

“Make no mistake, firefighting is about teamwork and working together,” said  Bates. “So, while we are recognizing some individuals for their deeds of daring, we all need to remember that everyone present on the morning of June 1 contributed to the outcome of the incident.”

Nine different units—from Madison Township, Bloom Township, Violet Township and Columbus—responded to the fire where Coyle and Moore were trapped in the basement and interior access was blocked because the stairs were located in the area of heaviest fire involvement.

The owners of the home, John and Linda Marcum, and two young children, were sleeping on the first floor and were alerted  by smoke detectors and escaped the house. Fire blocked their efforts to assist Coyle and Moore.

While firefighters battled the blaze on the ground level of the house, Columbus 911 dispatchers Mike McComas and Mike Weier remained on the phone with Coyle and Moore. Firefighters Lt. Pam Price and Jessica Borden were the first Madison Township responders to enter the basement and rescue the two adults.

Price and Borden were presented Medals of Valor—the department’s highest honor—for their actions.

“We didn’t know there were people in the basement until we got on scene,” said Price. “I first did a 360 to see how to get into the house. The two adults were sleeping in a bedroom in the basement and the fire spread so quickly, they couldn’t get out. They had to knock down a lot of the fire just for us to get into the basement. The house was unstable and even we could have gotten trapped down there along with the residents, but you do what you have to do.”

Price said it was the kind of run that a firefighter will hear about and know they’ll have to face sometime in their career.

“It was pretty difficult because you know you had life in the basement,” said Price. “This was a situation where you risked a lot to save a lot.”

Bates said after the individuals were removed via a ladder and stairs, an immediate accounting of all firefighters was taken before Battalion Chief Drew Pruden ordered crews to switch to a defensive attack due to the structure’s instability.

Letters of Recognition were presented to members of the Columbus Fire Division. Pruden received the Madison Township Fire Department’s Distinguished Service Medal and individual citations were presented to Lt.  James Looney and firefighters Larry Baugess, Michael Kipp. Firefighters Joe Rider and Allen Young will be recognized at the trustees’ meeting in July.

Following the presentations, Bates said, “On the morning of June 1, each and every one of you showed that you know your jobs, you did not hesitate to do what needed to be done and demonstrated that you are pretty good at what you do. As the investigator from the State Fire Marshal’s Office said that morning, ‘I haven’t seen something like that for a long time. That was top shelf stuff there.’”

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