On Friday (Oct. 12), David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will present five London firefighters with the Governor General’s prestigious Medal of Bravery at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
The Medal of Bravery, created in 1972, recognizes acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances.
On Aug. 28, 2004, Captain Michael Black, firefighters Darrell Black, Daniel Glanville, Brent Kirchner and Benoit Ladouceur responded to a call for assistance from a neighbouring municipality to rescue a man trapped inside a 30 metre high cement silo in Beechville, Ontario.
The injured worker was located halfway down the silo at the bottom of a narrow trench, buried up to his chest in solidified cement dust. The crew made numerous risky entries into the confined space with a slab of unstable hardened cement dust weighing nearly 15 tonnes hanging over them.
High angle, trench and rope rescue techniques were utilized. In order to free the victim they had to jackhammer the cement and vacuum it out of the silo. For more than 13 hours the crew worked diligently with extreme care to bring the victim to safety.
Mayor Joe Fontana echoed his admiration for London’s finest.
“These are men who stand shoulder to shoulder with their comrades and on a daily basis they collectively make the conscious decision to risk their lives to save the lives of others. Today, we are able to honour them for the raw courage and incredible strength of character that propelled them to successfully rescue a man trapped and frightened,” Fontana said. “A man who ultimately was reunited with his family because of the skill, resourcefulness and determination of these brave and tenacious firefighters. As a community we stand to honour them for this effort and for their ongoing service.”
Fire Chief John Kobarda echoed the mayor’s sentiments.
“These firefighters performed extraordinary acts of bravery and courage in the line of duty, under extremely dangerous and difficult conditions,” Kobarda said. “They put their own lives at risk numerous times in order to successfully rescue the trapped worker. They are heroes and we are very proud of them — they are most deserving of the prestigious Medal of Bravery.”
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