TRUMANN, AR (KAIT) - Three firefighters from Trumann are the recipients of the Arkansas Firefighter of the Year Award.
The award is normally given to only one firefighter, but these three men were recognized for their heroic efforts when responding to a fire on January the 27, 2012.
Assistant Fire Chief Ernie Link says he was the first to arrive on scene. "Around 12:15 PM," Link said. "I received a call of a fire and possible entrapment of children. At that time, I got in the engine and paged the other firefighters and responded to the scene. As I pulled up I noticed there were several people at the back part of the corner of the house trying to get the window open. There was smoke coming out of the window and the rest of the house."
Link then proceeded into the house alone. "At that time," Link said. "I went in the front door with regular clothing on and got half way into the living room and the smoke overtook me and I couldn't get no further. I backed out, went outside and put an air pack on over my clothing and started to go into the structure. At that time, Lt. Blackwood and my other firefighters had showed up. He put an air pack over his street clothing, too and we went back in with an attack line."
Lt. Blackwood followed Assistant Fire Chief Link into the home and the two began battling the fire.
Lt. Revis Kemper was the third to go in. "We located the fire and knocked it down," Link said. "By the time we got it down another firefighter, Lt. Revis Kemper, he showed up and came through the hallway and asked me what was going on and if everyone was out. I told him I heard two were out, but they think three were in there. We had been turning over furniture and looking under beds. Lt. Kemper went to the bedroom where the kids were located and turned over one of the beds."
It was Lt. Kemper who found the third child. "I laid down to look under the bed," Kemper said. "That's when I saw the child under the bed. I tried to pull him out and I couldn't. So, I stood up and had to pick the bed up off the child because he had a locked grip on the bed and he wasn't letting go. He was unconscious, unresponsive. I got him out from underneath the bed and took him outside and began life support measures."
The third child was resuscitated, but unfortunately one child did die due to smoke inhalation.
Assistant Fire Chief Link says the loss of one of the children was hard on them all. "I feel grateful to be able to help the two children," Link said. "But being a firefighter I hate to loose someone. The little boy we did loose, it devastated us all. It took a toll on our fire department. People don't realize what we go through when we loose anybody in house fire."
All three firefighters say they were surprised and honored when receiving the award. Kemper says he enjoys getting to help people. "I fell in love with it," Kemper said. "I don't know if it's the adrenaline rush or if it's just...I'm not sure. I do love doing it. I really do think it's more of the helping people."
Blackwood, "It's something that I love to do. It has to be in your blood to be a firefighter. Most people are running out when we're running in."
Lt. Revis Kemper has been with the Trumann Fire Department for five years.
Lt. Tony Blackwood has been a firefighter full time for 5 years and a volunteer firefighter 3 years before that.
As of Sunday, July 8th, Assistant Chief Link will have been a firefighter for 20 years.
For more information about Trumann Fire Department, log onto this website.