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HB Independent

Firefighters honored for actions

4:43 PM PST, February 5, 2013

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Several Huntington Beach firefighters were honored at an award ceremony Jan. 31 for a variety of actions including pulling people from burning buildings, saving a cat's life and controlling a trauma scene on a highway after a family vacation.

The following information was provided by Battalion Chief Jeff Lopez:

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MEDAL OF BRAVERY

Fire Capt. Darrin Witt received the Medal of Bravery for his work at a townhouse fire. Witt responded to a fire on July 1 in the downtown area while on a fireworks suppression patrol with a police detective.

Bystanders told the men there was someone inside the building. There was heavy fire and smoke coming from the structure.

Witt entered the structure without aid of protective clothing or emergency breathing apparatus.

Witt said he felt extreme heat while going up the stairs and proceeded on his stomach. Halfway up he met a man trying to crawl down the stairs. Witt grabbed him and assisted him down the stairs, As they neared the front door, the man broke loose and moved toward the back garage. Witt pursued the man, overpowered him and forcibly pulled him away from the fire and out of the building.

Witt suffered second-degree burns on his right hand and smoke inhalation.

After exiting the townhouse Witt and the police officer were told there was someone in the adjacent apartment which was also on fire. Together, the men entered that building but found no one inside.

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LIFE SAVING

Bryan Kistler and Joel Whipp were honored with the Life Saving award after pulling a young man from a house fire on Alabama Street.

Engine 45 responded to the fire on Jan. 29, 2012, and were told an occupant's son was still inside.

Firefighter paramedics Kistler and Whipp swept the building and in the second floor bedroom found a young man who was under the covers in a fetal position on the top bunk bed.

Firefighters said the man resisted help and grabbed onto the bed. The fire fighters had to pull him from the bed, downstairs and out of the home. The bedroom was soon engulfed in flames.

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MERITORIOUS SERVICE

Fire Capt. Greg Funderburk received a Meritorious Service Award for saving a cat's life.

Along with Engine 46, Funderburk responded to a mobile home fire from which the residents had escaped but a dog and cat had not. The dog was found and evacuated, but the cat, Silky Baby, was found not breathing.

Funderburk performed mouth to snout respirations on the cat and within a few minutes Silky Baby was breathing on its own. Funderbunk was recognized because he helped minimize the trauma the owners suffered as they lost their home.

Several firefighters from Truck 42 and Engine 42 were called to a scene in which a child had fallen on an escalator and had two of their fingers severed. While the child was cared for and transported to the hospital, the fire fighters disassembled the escalator to find their lost fingers so they could be reattached. The escalator company arrived to assist and together the workers took the escalator apart and delivered the fingers to the hospital, though they were unable to be reattached.

A Meritorious Service Award was given to Fire Capt. Gary Finney, Fire Engineer Steve Hess, Firefighter-Paramedic Zac Wright, Firefighter-Paramedic Chad Garrett, Fire Capt. Rob Glenn, Fire Engineer Andre Clarizio, Firefighter Ken Deleske and Firefighter Philip Cheung.

Firefighter-Paramedic Christopher Galbraith was given a Meritorious Service Award for providing CPR to a critically injured motorcyclist he encountered on the way home from a trip to Nevada.

Division Chief Bill Reardon was also given the Meritorious Service Award for providing assistance to a man suffering from severe dehydration while backpacking in the San Goronio Wilderness with his son.

—Staff reports