A dangerous and dramatic rescue made national headlines back in March. Now the firefighters behind that heroic act are getting the recognition they deserve, being named Firefighters of the Year.
As the fire raged behind him, a man was plucked off a ledge and pulled to safety, just in the nick of time. HFD Senior Captain Brad Hawthorne and Engineer Operator Dwayne Wyble were two of four firefighters on a ladder truck who saved the life of construction worker Curtis Reissig.
"He was a couple feet from us and I was telling him to hold on at first, because I didn't want him jumping and missing. I wanted to get where I could get my hands on him, so I told him to hold on," said Hawthorne.
Dramatic cell phone video showed Hawthorne at the end of the ladder as the worker jumped from the fifth-floor balcony to the fourth floor. With Hawthorne still holding on, Wyble managed to move the ladder to the perfect position so the worker could jump on.
"I knew I couldn't start moving the ladder right away without knocking one of them off the ladder, so I moved it just enough where he would feel it move, and he would look down at me to see what was going on, so when he looked down I started moving the ladder over immediately, so he knew what I was thinking then," Wyble said.
And he did so in the nick of time, because seconds later, the roof collapsed.
The two firefighters were honored Wednesday at a luncheon by the Independent Insurance Agents of Houston. And they tell us they still keep in touch with the man whose life they saved.
"He is a great guy to spend time with, he still sends us messages on our phone, highlights in his life right now, and thanking us for what we did," said Wyble.
Two others on the same ladder truck were also nominated for Firefighter of the Year. Other nominees included a firefighter involved in rescuing someone from a burning apartment fire and a firefighter who helped save a woman from her submerged vehicle.