SUBMITTED PHOTO Belvidere Republican
Firefighters of BFD C-Shift responded to the early morning call to a fire on Saturday, Aug. 15.

By Anne Eickstadt

During the Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, Sept. 28, two members of the Belvidere Fire Dept. were honored for their part in saving a life during a fire incident. At the appropriate time during the meeting, Belvidere Fire Chief Al Hyser came up to the podium and addressed the room.

“The Belvidere Fire Deptartment believes in the recognition of its members, their actions, and their outstanding efforts in service to the community. In keeping with this belief, the department is recognizing the outstanding efforts of Firefighters Dan Drall and Travis Tangye that occurred in the early morning hours of Aug. 15, 2020.” He then introduced Captain David Burdick, and Drall and Tangye and turned over the microphone to Burdick.

Burdick then told the firefighters how proud he is to be their captain and read out the incident report:

“On Aug. 15, at 0524 hours, the Belvidere Fire C-shift responded to 700 Whitman for smoke in the building. First-in fire and police department units initially found nothing showing on the exterior but within one to two minutes on scene, smoke was pushing into the hallway and out of a second story window AC unit. Belvidere Police did an excellent job in evacuating tenants from the building while maintaining the integrity of the fire apartment.

“Engine 101 (Firefighters Drall and Tangye) were assigned suppression and were getting ready to make entry to the fire apartment on the second floor when they heard an individual yelling for help inside of the apartment. FF Tangye immediately forced entry, retrieved the victim and removed him from the fire apartment. The victim was assisted downstairs, transferred to Officer Zapf, and turned over to Lifeline paramedics on scene for more definitive medical attention.

“Engine 101 then made entry back into the apartment to extinguish the fire and verify it was vacated. Engine 102 also entered the building and began to perform additional searches to confirm no additional victims were still inside of the structure.

“I would like to commend all agencies that responded to this incident. Everyone showed up ready to work and completed their assigned tasks. Our auto-aid agreements allow us as Incident Commanders to be proactive on the fire ground and less reactive. With this being said, I would like to give special recognition to Firefighter Dan Drall and Firefighter Travis Tangye for their swift actions in rescuing our fire victim on this early Saturday morning. They both showed grit and determination while working inside of the structure and were able to maintain composure to extinguish the fire during and after the rescue.

“The time (early morning) and location (multi-family) of this call is one that we train for but never want to see due to the great potential for human life loss. The first in actions of the Belvidere Fire Engines 101 and 102 companies and Belvidere Police averted any chance of significant life loss. At this time, 5:30 in the morning, most people are usually at home and asleep.

“The first-in actions of Fire engines 101 and 102 and the Belvidere Police averted any chance of significant life loss. Thank you and congratulations, gentlemen.”

Hyser once again took the microphone and read a letter written to the BFD:

“It’s a little intimidating to write a note of thanks to the people who saved your life. What do you say? A simple thanks just seems far too little, and anything more runs the risk of sounding insincere. So I will simply say this: The people being honored here are not only everyday heroes, nor only Belvidere’s heroes… they are my heroes.

“On behalf of my family, my friends, and myself: Thank you. I’m sorry that I couldn’t be there in person, but the simple fact that I’m alive to be at work right now is just a small testament to the monumental heroism you displayed. Your honors are so very much deserved.

Signed, David Ringwald”

Hyser continued speaking: “Mr. Ringwald has recovered from his burn injuries and has, after six weeks, returned to work. Fire stories like this do not happen often, but when they do our guys are ready. I, as the fire chief, am very grateful for the hard work and dedication that our department members bring each and every day to this most honorable of professions.

“As a result of Firefighters Drall and Tangye’s actions that morning, I am awarding the Distinguished Service Medal to Dan Drall and the Life Saving Medal to Travis Tangye.”

He then presented the firefighters with their medals. They each thanked everyone who supports them from the city council to their fire dept. family and the training programs, the Belvidere Police and their own wives. They returned to their seats amidst a round of applause.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Mayor Mike Chamberlain said, “That’s why folks of this community can sleep well at night.”

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