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In the early morning hours of July 5, Toledo Firefighter Scott Hathaway broke down the front door of a man's sixth-floor unit in the Ashland Manor Apartments.
In the smoky central Toledo apartment, the 45-year-old man had barricaded himself inside a room. Mr. Hathaway was the first of his colleagues to get inside the room. He saw the man's foot on the window sill, as though he intended to jump.
The veteran firefighter grabbed the man, pulled him back, and wrestled with him. Officials later determined the man had set the blaze, which caused about $2,000 damage, in a suicide attempt.
"I was just doing my job," Mr. Hathaway said matter-of-factly yesterday of his heroic effort, which earned him one of the department's highest honors - the Medal of Commendation.
But Mr. Hathaway wasn't the only one recognized for saving lives and going beyond the call of duty. Nineteen other firefighters received either a Life Saving Award or a Certificate of Special Recognition during a ceremony in Government Center.
Many of those receiving awards spoke about their honors as humbly as Mr. Hathaway, and mentioned their colleagues who weren't recognized.
"Me, personally, I don't deserve any kind of reward," said Firefighter Michael Darrington, who received a Life Saving Award.
However, many of the firefighters' actions not only scored local
attention, but also were noted in a firefighting magazine.
Those receiving Life Saving Awards were:
Firefighters Michael Darrington, Michael Pelechaty, and James Sherman for pulling a trapped man from a burning truck after it hit two cars and a fuel pump. Another colleague, Jeff Martin, received a Certificate of Special Recognition for his efforts in the June 18 incident in which Mr. Pelechaty assisted even though he was off duty.
Firefighters Lucas Harman and Karen Marquardt and Lt. Richard Syroka for searching a house in zero visibility and high heat for victims of a fire Nov. 2.
They found two victims, one of whom died. Firefighter David Soldner, who drove the engine truck, was awarded a Certificate of Special Recognition.
Firefighters Patrick Early, Thomas Kalucki, and David Winsted; Lt. Michael Maraldo, and Capt. Glenn Gill for helping a colleague who fell into a burning basement March 6, 2003, by extinguishing threatening flames during the rescue and helping put out the blaze.
Others earning a Certificate of Special Recognition were:
Firefighters Terry Glaze, James Hauden, Gregory Lindner, Daniel O'Leary, and Denny Pickett for pulling an unconscious driver from a locked vehicle that was on fire Oct. 30.
Firefighter Joseph Westenkirchner for entering freezing water Dec. 4 in his normal work clothes to search a car and hole after the car crashed through a barrier and into the hole that was dug to access a water main.
Officials yesterday also remembered four firefighters who lost their lives and several others who were hurt badly 43 years ago in the Anthony Wayne Trail fire.
The Last Alarm Memorial marked the blaze in which a tank truck carrying 8,000 gallons of gasoline overturned, sparking one of the fiercest fires in the city's history.
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