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Firefighters honored for saving man, 6-year-old girl

January 16, 2019

Fort Wayne firefighters who saved two lives in separate fires recently were honored by Mayor Tom Henry on Tuesday at a Rescue Recognition Ceremony outside his office.

At the Dec. 23 fire on Fox Avenue, three crews worked together to save the life of an unnamed man. They rescued him  in 2 minutes, 9 seconds, Fort Wayne Fire Department Chief Eric Lahey said.

Upon arrival, a battalion crew was told there was someone inside the home. Engine 2 arrived seconds later and was assigned to force its way into the home, Lahey said at the ceremony.

When Engine 11 arrived at the same time, firefighters were told to search the first floor and basement, Lahey said.

“In zero-visibility environment, Lt. (Tim) Schweitzer was able to locate the occupant with the thermal imaging camera and the crew of E11 removed the occupant while the crew of E2 placed themselves between the fire and the crew of E11 and the occupant,” Lahey said.

Besides Schweitzer, firefighters of Engine 11 included Ty Bruce, Andrew Knox and Phillip Stewart.

About 5 a.m. New Year’s Day, firefighters saved the life of Maelyn Walker, 6, who was trapped in a second-floor bedroom in a home on Taylor Street. Her family had just moved into the upstairs apartment with many belongings still unpacked.

Two more apartments were downstairs.

Maelyn’s sister Hope, 3, and Andrew, an apartment mate, got out via a back porch door. Brenda Walker, Maelyn’s mother, was away delivering The Journal Gazette to Pine Valley residents, she said.

A tenant told firefighters in Engine 2 that the fastest way to Maelyn was to take the exterior stairs. Firefighters were met with heavy smoke and zero visibility on the second floor as they searched. A ground ladder was raised to the second floor in the front of the structure.

Pvt. Jeremy Shamp almost immediately found Maelyn in the front bedroom, rescued her, handed her out the window to a fire crew and down to waiting medics.

Meanwhile, firefighters fought the fire while evading a downed power line at the rear of the home, Lahey said.

″(They were) in grave danger of being electrocuted to ensure the child and the crews on the second floor were not in danger of the fire spreading to the second floor,” Lahey said.

Other firefighters honored for the rescue were Capt. Rich Dolsen, Brian Heckman, Kirk Scott and Joe Eager.

Brenda Walker and her family were at the ceremony to thank the firefighters. Maelyn, who wore patent leather slippers and a velvet and tulle dress, has thoroughly recovered from smoke inhalation. With the attention showered on her, she became shy and couldn’t think what to say. Brenda Walker wiped away tears.

“To save a life is not just an individual effort,” Lahey said. “It’s a communal effort.”

jduffy@jg.net

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