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Vol. LIX, No. 19
September 21, 2007
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NIH Firefighters Recognized for Rescue Effort in Kensington House Fire

NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni (l) receives the Golden Plate Award at the Academy of Achievement’s 46th annual International Achievement Summit from past honoree Dr. Steven Rosenberg (r), chief of NCI’s Surgery Branch.
Montgomery County Fire Chief Thomas W. Carr, Jr., (third from l) recently recognized six NIH firefighters for their role in rescuing children from a house fire. They include (from l) Technician John Bede, Master Firefighter Richard Blair, Captain Ed Gotthardt, Master Firefighter Israel Burch, Firefighter Francis Brennan and Master Firefighter Joe D'Ambrosio.

Six firefighters from the NIH Division of Fire and Rescue Services, better known as the NIH Fire Department, were recognized on Aug. 27 for their part in the successful rescue of five children from a burning home in Kensington on Feb. 3.

At the ceremony, Montgomery County Fire Chief Thomas W. Carr, Jr., presented a unit citation to Technician John Bede, Master Firefighter Richard Blair, Captain Ed Gotthardt, Master Firefighter Israel Burch, Firefighter Francis Brennan and Master Firefighter Joe D'Ambrosio for their "extraordinary efforts" in helping save the lives of children, including 13-month-old twins, and youngsters ages 3, 7 and 12. The NIH firefighters were part of a contingent of about 60 firefighters and emergency medical personnel from multiple locations responding to the scene.

The first floor of the Connecticut Ave. home was engulfed in flames on two sides when emergency personnel arrived on the scene after receiving a 911 call from a 12-year-old girl trapped inside the house. A frantic mother outside the home confirmed that her children were still inside. The crew from NIH Tower 51 was the first to get ladders in place to the second floor to support the search effort.

In the search and rescue mission, firefighters located all the children on the second floor. Several were found unconscious. Some were handed out windows; others were carried out of the burning house. All survived.

In remarks at the ceremony, Chief Carr underscored the gravity of the situation. "We were right on the edge of losing these kids.but five kids lived because of good training. All the pieces came together." He also emphasized his appreciation for the mutual aid that NIH and Montgomery County share when it comes to fire, rescue and emergency medical assistance. "I sure hope this relationship continues."

The Division of Fire and Rescue Services is part of the Office of Research Services. - NIH Record Icon

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