Four Firefighters from Schuylkill County Given ‘Spirit of Courage’ Award

BETHLEHEM -- It was a night to honor heroes in the Lehigh Valley.

The Lehigh Valley Health Network held its annual “Spirit of Courage” awards to recognize those who have saved lives from fires or burns in the past year.

Four firefighters from northeastern Pennsylvania were among those awarded.

Those four firefighters from Schuylkill County can now add lifesavers to their list of accomplishments. They each received an award for putting their lives at risk to save the life of a woman during a fire in Minersville in March.

“We just went in there, did what we had to do and got the girl out, hoping and praying that she was alive when we brought her out,” said firefighter Brendon Firestine with the Mountaineer Hose Company.

The blaze broke out inside a three-story apartment building on Good Friday. Several residents were inside at the time but made it safely outside. That's when they realized one of their neighbors was still inside.

“I heard a group of people on the corner and they were screaming frantically that there was somebody inside, and they were pointing to a window and that feeling, I just knew that where they were pointing is where I had to go and there was someone in there,” said firefighter Bill Atkinson with the Minersville Fire Rescue.

Those firefighters found that woman unconscious in one of the units. They got her out, and she was flown to Lehigh Valley Hospital with severe burns.

“I'm glad that our department got together and was able to save someone from a burning building,” said firefighter Charles Barnes with the Mountaineer Hose Company.

Now the four men who carried her to safety are being hailed as heroes, but they beg to differ.

“What we did that day was a part of our job. It's what we do, but no, I certainly don't see myself as any special hero or anything,” said Atkinson. “I just did what I was trained to do. We all did.”

“We got called to do what we have to do. It's no different than any other time, going in there, helping people, save their house, help save families,” said Firestine.

The money raised from the event goes to benefit the Burn Prevention Network which launched the Spirit of Courage awards with the Lehigh Valley Health Network in 2006.