On Wednesday, those firefighters received a pat on the back from the Police and Firemen’s Insurance Association for their efforts that saved Demetria D’Antignac.
“For a job well-done, for their heroic acts when you rescued a woman from a residence fire that was filled with thick smoke,” said area PFIA representative Myles Christie Jr. at a brief ceremony at Martinez-Columbia headquarters in Martinez.
Christie said he read about the rescue in the newspaper and submitted it to the PFIA for award consideration.
On the evening of Nov. 17, two Martinez-Columbia firefighters responded to a reported fire with people trapped inside a townhouse on New Petersburg Circle. They were told there was likely a woman and possibly two children inside.
Firefighters broke down the door to the townhome, which was full of smoke. They had to crawl on the floor and follow their fire hose in and out because the smoke was so thick.
Battalion Chief James Burnett led the team from outside as firefighters Gary Thigpen Jr. and James Frazier went in to look for victims. They found D’Antignac collapsed near the back door.
Firefighter Robbie Stevens went in and helped carry D’Antignac out. She was passed off to the emergency medical team and spent a while in the Joseph M. Still Burn Still.
“Last I heard, she was out and doing fine,” Frazier said.
Efforts to reach D’Antignac for comment were not immediately successful.
Firefighters Steve Culpepper and Jamie Champion went inside to search the second floor while Mike Cummings was preparing ladders to access the back of the home.
Christie presented Stevens, Thigpen and Frazier with PFIA’s Hero Hall of Fame awards.
“I’m proud of them,” Martinez-Columbia Chief Doug Cooper said, adding he’s not surprised by his firefighters’ courageous behavior. “These people were just in the right place at the right time. Any of our crew would have done the same thing.”
And they did. Many of the firefighters on the scene went back inside to continue searching for the two children, who were later confirmed safe at relative’s home.
“Teamwork,” agreed Frazier, Thigpen and Stevens, all of whom were humble about the awards.
Christie presented Burnett, Champion, Culpepper, Cummings and firefighter Trey Lord with the PFIA’s Meritorious Services Award.
“We go by (the motto), ‘risk a little to save a little, and risk a lot to save a lot,’” said Assistant Chief Jim Champion.
The fire started in the kitchen and badly damaged the home, but injured no one except D’Antignac.