Monroe firefighters to be honored for heroics

Five Monroe firefighters will be recognized with the 2017 International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)/Motorola Solutions Ben Franklin Award for Valor for their heroic efforts during the August 2016 fire at Mount Pleasant Place. The fire broke out after four lightning bolts conjoined and struck the building causing a fire. The fire forced the evacuation of 69 residents from the three-story independent living facility. FILE PHOTO

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Five Monroe firefighters will be recognized with the 2017 International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)/Motorola Solutions Ben Franklin Award for Valor for their heroic efforts during the August 2016 fire at Mount Pleasant Place. The fire broke out after four lightning bolts conjoined and struck the building causing a fire. The fire forced the evacuation of 69 residents from the three-story independent living facility. FILE PHOTO

Five Monroe firefighters will be honored with their profession's highest award this month for their actions during a fire last summer at a local retirement complex.

The Monroe firefighters’ actions will be recognized with the prestigious 2017 International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)/Motorola Solutions Ben Franklin Award for Valor. This award recognizes firefighters around the world for their expert training, leadership, heroic actions and safe practices. The award is named after Benjamin Franklin, the nation’s first fire chief. It is the highest honor bestowed by IAFC.

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Medals will be presented to Monroe Fire Lts. Scott Clasgens, Chris Marker and Russell Rickard; and Fire Medics Josh Spradling and Paul Petersat at the Fire Rescue International’s general session on July 27 in Charlotte, N.C.

Monroe’s first responding crew acted with courage and expertise to save the lives of senior citizens trapped on the top floor, directly under the burning roof of Mount Pleasant Place, a three-story building that was struck by multiple lightning strikes, according to the department.

All of the residents were rescued as the fire spread, before the roof collapsed and smoke engulfed the building.

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Monroe Fire Chief John Centers said there could have been more serious injuries if not for the quick actions of first responders and the Mount Pleasant Place staff. He said their training was crucial in getting residents out safely during this emergency.

“This was a career fire,” Centers said. “It is difficult to imagine a worse scenario than the one we encountered, with that many people in harm’s way. Our responders took substantial risks, but their training and commitment showed. The decisions made by our public safety staff that day allowed us to have a successful mission.”

Stan Kappers, executive director of Ohio Living Mount Pleasant, said the award is “well-deserved.”

“We’re very proud of them,” he said. “Very blessed to have them serving in our community.”

Kappers said work to renovate the fire damaged building is ahead of schedule and he’s hoping all of the residents will be back in the building sometime in November or early December. While a number of the residents have already returned to the building, some have been placed in other residences on the campus.

“There has been some attrition, but all are doing fine,” he said.

The Ben Franklin Award for Valor is just the latest of recent accollades for the department.

In May, the Monroe Fire Department was chosen to receive a State of Ohio, Division of EMS Star of Life Award for 2016.

Monroe was one of 11 departments statewide who were recognized for outstanding achievements and whose accomplishments rise above the day-to-day excellence of that system.

In addition, the department also received the Norma Dittrick Extra Measure of Service Award through the Greater Miami Valley EMS Council in May.

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