Three members of the Smiths Falls Police Services who disregarded their own safety to rescue a woman from a burning building were honoured by town council on June 3.
Mayor Shawn Pankow presented plaques to Constables Michael Gallagher and Dan King and Sgt. Paul Klassen for their actions on April 28, when fire destroyed an apartment building at 8 Pearl Street. The officers rescued tenant Yvonne Barbeau shortly before a section of the building’s roof collapsed.
Pankow said the fire broke out in the 22-unit, three storey building on a day of the week when the building’s smoke alarms were routinely tested.
“None of those fine men knew what they would face that day at 8 Pearl St.,” said the mayor.
When the police arrived on the scene, they were told that people were still inside the building. Without the aid of any breathing apparatus, they entered the building, which was full of “thick black smoke,” said Pankow. Barbeau, whose mobility had been reduced due to recent back surgery, was still trapped in the building and had taken refuge in her bathroom to await rescue.
Unable to find her, the police were about to be driven out of the building by the smoke when Barbeau heard them coughing in the hallway, said Pankow. Barbeau banged on her apartment door and attracted the attention of the officers, who then led her to safety.
The three officers were treated at the local hospital for smoke inhalation, but were able to return to duty the following day.
“I am very proud of all of the officers, firefighters and paramedics who responded that day and got the scene under control,” said Police Chief Mark McGillvray in an official release. “A special thanks to nurses Sandra Milotte and Jane Doyle for their quick medical assistance to the three officers when they exited the building.”
The chief also expressed thanks to Glenview Iron and Metal driver Tom Jackson for giving a bicycle patrol officer a lift to the scene. “I am very grateful that there were no serious injuries that day,” he added.
Shortly after the April 28 fire, Pankow credited the quick action of the Smiths Falls Fire Department with preventing the blaze from spreading to the neighbouring building at 10 Pearl St.