Virginia Beach Fire Department had multiple calls for a home on fire on October 12, 2010. Multiple people were trapped inside the family home.
Captain William Reynolds and Firefighter Hope Scott took Engine 7 over to the single-family house. As Captain Reynolds assessed the scene, he reported that they had a large fire on their hands spreading from the first-floor corner up to the second floor of the home.
There were also two residents on the roof of the porch. They were trying to get into the second floor of the home.
They alerted the firefighters that a baby and the great grandmother were trapped inside the home. At that point, the two residents had to abandon their efforts due to high temperatures and heavy smoke.
Since they did not have much time, Captain Reynolds and Firefighter Scott took a ladder up to the second floor window to enter the home. This form of rescue is called a Vent-Enter-Search and is highly dangerous for the rescuers.
The pair went into the home via the window, without the assist of a fire hose. The interior was incredibly hot and visibility was low.
Reynolds used his thermal imaging camera to assist in the rescue. But the fire was so hot that the camera ceased to be helpful.
The two made their way through the home crawling on the floor unable to see where they were going. Fire temperatures were so high that Scott could feel the heat through her gear.
They pushed onward, knowing that there was a baby somewhere in that room that needed them. Two minutes in, Scott thought she may have heard a quiet cry.
Locating the Infant
Scott used her arms to brush the floor, feeling around for the infant. She found the baby on a mattress unconscious. She got the infant to Reynolds, who quickly handed the baby off to waiting firefighters.
They found the woman on the stairs leading up to the second floor. Reynolds and Scott were able to get the 73-year-old woman out of the building, and EMTs took her to the hospital, but she died from her injuries.
The infant was treated at the Norfolk General Hospital Burn Center and fully recovered. Both Reynolds and Scott were awarded the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor for their bravery in the face of life-threatening conditions.
Source: BJA Office of Justice Programs