The Ritchie Volunteer Fire Department would like to take a moment to congratulate our very own Assistant Chief William Cunningham Jr. on receiving the PGFD Bronze Medal of Valor. This award is related to a house fire on January 5th,2016 where Co.37 operated as the first due truck company. Below you will find the excerpt from the awards ceremony detailing the events that took place that day. This award not only represents the personal actions of Chief Cunningham Jr. and the rest of the firefighters who assisted with this rescue, but highlights a team effort of removing one of our own Ritchie members who had fallen through the roof that day. Along with Chief Cunningham Jr. we would also like to recognize the following individuals for their role that day for one of our own members.
(Battalion Chief Donald V. Fletcher, Jr., Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant Christopher B. Blackistone, and Fire Fighter William Philpott L. Jr.)
On January 5, 2016, fire and EMS units responded to a reported house fire at 9400 Old Marlboro Pike. Firefighters arrived on the scene to find smoke coming from the home and bystanders advising that someone might still be inside. Crews quickly initiated an aggressive interior attack to support searches for a possibly trapped occupant, but none was found. By this time the fire located on the first floor had extended into the attic space, tasking the crew with opening the roof in support of the interior operations.
During the roof operation a firefighter fell through a weakened portion of the rooftop, and crew members immediately deployed to assist. He had fallen through up to his shoulders and was exposed to high heat and smoke. Ritchie Volunteer Assistant Chief Cunningham reached out and grabbed hold of his comrade’s self-contained breathing apparatus harness, preventing him from falling deeper into the attic. Battalion Chief Fletcher, Lieutenant Blackistone, and Fire Fighter Philpott ascended ground ladders and reached the firefighter very quickly. Together the four firefighters lifted their entrapped crew member up and out of the attic. The stunned firefighter was then assisted from the roof to the ground and placed in the care of EMS personnel, who evaluated him on the scene. Due to the wearing of full personal protective equipment and swift support from his crew members, the firefighter did not sustain any injuries and was consequently released to full duty.
For unusual personal risk and judgment, Volunteer Assistant Chief William Cunningham, Jr., Battalion Chief Donald V. Fletcher, Jr., Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant Christopher B. Blackistone, and Fire Fighter William Philpott L. Jr., are awarded a Bronze Medal of Valor.