Three Cottleville Firefighters, FF. Joel Rydberg, FF. Tom Smoot and FF. Ryan Haake received the Medal of Valor Award from the St. Louis Metro Area Fire Chiefs Association on Sunday, October 19th for their heroic actions that took place on May 25, 2014. These three Firefighters responded to a report of a structure fire at the TK Mobile Home Park located in unincorporated St. Charles County.
As the fire crew arrived, they were met by neighbors who stated that
a female subject was still in the home and that they had tried to get her out but the smoke “was too intense”. The fire crew quickly organized for a rescue attempt and were immediately met by a locked front door, they quickly force their way through the door into the home where they encountered moderate to heavy smoke and fire conditions.
As the crew made their search through the home, they once again found themselves facing another locked door, having to force a second door open, they called out to the victim while listening intently for a response. The crew was alerted from a faint call out from the victim allowing them to quickly locate her and then successfully rescue her from the home.
The fire crew faced uncertainty as they encounter unpredictable fire and smoke conditions while not knowing the condition of the structural integrity due to the nature of this fire. Acting Captain Rydberg along with Firefighters Haake and Smoot showed resourcefulness and courage by recognizing the immediate life threat to the victim and while disregarding their own safety, entered the home without the protection of a hose line and located and rescued the victim.
These three firefighters modestly insisted they were just “in the right place at the right time”. The three were also honored earlier for their heroic lifesaving efforts from the St. Charles Elks Lodge # 690. Each of the firefighters received the, “Firefighter of the Year Award” in a ceremony that took place at the Elks lodge.
Thankfully, the victim reportedly has made a full recovery as of this writing.
“These three men are excellent examples of professionalism and dedication,” said Rob Wylie Fire Chief of Cottleville Fire Protection District. “It makes me proud to have members of my department recognized for their actions.”