State of Illinois Fallen FF Memorial & Medal Day
Chief Thomas Freeman and FF Andrew Fitzgerald
April 1st, 2008
April 1st, 2008 at approx 0400 at the Towpath Inn Hotel at 933 S. State St. in Downtown Lockport. Fire and smoke on the third floor and in the cockloft, four floors in the rear (walk out basement). This building was of ordinary construction, brick exterior built around 1890. Truck Company #5’s crew was manned by Lt. Larry Rittenhouse, FF Mike Callans, FF Andrew Fitzgerald & FF Brandon Voight.
On the morning of the 1st of April, 2008, Truck Company #5 arrived to find two residents hanging out the windows on the third floor of the hotel on the south side of the building. Heavy smoke and fire were visible all across the third floor at this time. Truck Company #5 was setting the main ladder when the bystanders told the crew of another occupant hanging out of the window at the rear of the building on the fourth floor. Lt. Rittenhouse ordered FF Fitzgerald along with FF Voight to carry a 35’ ground ladder around to the rear of the building while Truck #5 rescued the two occupants from the south side of the building with the main ladder. When they came to the rear of the building they saw the occupant straddling the window sill with heavy smoke and fire in the room. They extended the ladder and found that it was approx three feet short of the window sill. At this time Lt. Joe Casagrande of Engine Company #4 joined them. They tried to coax the occupant onto the ladder. He would not attempt this because of the ladder being short.
Without hesitation, and regards to his own safety, FF Fitzgerald climbed the ladder and stood on the third rung of the ladder in an awkward and precarious position in order to affect the rescue. He was able to reach the man’s leg and assist him onto the ladder as he hung out the window. FF Fitzgerald then led the man safely to the ground where he was treated by EMS personnel for smoke inhalation.
Were it not for FF Fitzgerald’s selfless and heroic actions, the occupant would have most likely succumb to the rapidly dethroning fire conditions which had gained control of his room. I am proud to recommend FF Andrew Fitzgerald to the Medal of Honor Committee.
Battalion Chief David Jerling
"For an act of bravery that clearly demonstrated courage and dedication in the face of danger while in the performance of duty, FF/Paramedic Andrew Fitzgerald is awarded the State of Illinois Medal of Valor."
Upon arrival of this incident, Lt. James Grady IV of Engine Company #1 was advised that there was a fire on the third floor near the elevator. As the first in engine, Engine #1 quickly advanced a hose line up to the third floor and initiated a primary search on the fire floor under rapidly deteriorating conditions. They rescued four of the buildings occupants and led them to safety. After exhausting their air, they changed into fresh bottles, reentered and finished a primary search on the second floor.
If not for their heroic teamwork, some if not all of the occupants they found would have been lost in this fire. It gives me get pride to recommend Engine Company #1 for the Award of Merit.
Battalion Chief David Jerling
Upon arrival of this incident, Truck Company #5 was faced with numerous challenges, they had to act quickly. Without hesitation, Lt. Rittenhouse made the decision to split the crew in order to quickly rescue three occupants from this building. At that time they were joined by Lt. Joe Casagrande from Engine Company #4. These three occupants were hanging from their windows in great peril with heavy smoke billowing from their rooms. Their only way out was through the window; they had been cut off from any other means of egress. If not for Truck Company #5 rapid and successful labors three people would not have survived from the conditions that were present.
For their teamwork and superb truck work, I am proud to recommend Truck Company #5 and Lt. Casagrande of Engine Company #4 for a unit commendation.
Battalion Chief David Jerling
"For an act of bravery that clearly demonstrated courage and dedication in the face of danger while in the performance of duty, Engine Company #1 comprised of Lt James Grady IV, FF Christopher Kozak, FF Casey Caldwell, FF Michael Femrite & Probationary FF Patrick Kelly, Truck Company #5 comprised of Lt. Larry Rittenhouse, FF Michael Callans, FF Andrew Fitzgerald & FF Brandon Voight, & Engine Company Lt. Joseph Casagrande are awarded the State of Illinois Firefighter Excellent Award."
Lt. Joseph Casagrande &
FF Michael Gale
May 23rd, 2004
Most people spend a day off relaxing, not Lt. Joe Casagrande or FF/Paramedic Michael Gale of the Lockport Township Fire District. On May 23rd, 2004, each was at home enjoying a well-deserved day off when their quiet Crest Hill neighborhood was suddenly rocked by a massive explosion. Each Fire Fighter immediately responded by running to the scene to discover a home leveled with a large portion of the main floor collapsed into the basement, burning debris, and a woman trapped in the rubble.
Without protective gear or regard for his personal safety, Lt. Casagrande climbed through the rubble to locate the 94 year-old victim who was conscious, but pinned under debris. While he worked to extricate her, FF Gale kept the growing crowd under control and established communication with the responding Battalion Chief, providing valuable data for the responding Lockport Fire District Units.
FF Gale located another victim, performed a patient assessment and recruited bystander assistance until an ambulance arrived. To prevent additional injuries, FF Gale borrowed tools from a neighbor and shut off the natural gas which was fueling the fire. He also shored up parts of the structure and continued relaying information top the duty Battalion Chief.
Lt. Casagrande still working to free the victim, relayed assessment and rescue information to the incoming companies. Meanwhile, Lt. Casagrande provided comfort and reassurance to the victim, who was subsequently freed, and transported to Loyola Medical Center Burn Unit.
"For an outstanding act of unselfish courage and heroism, which he demonstrated in great degree above and beyond the call of duty, Lt. Joseph R. Casagrande is awarded the State of Illinois Medal of Honor."
"For an act of bravery that clearly demonstrated courage and dedication in the face of danger while in the performance of duty, FF/Paramedic Michael E. Gale is awarded the State of Illinois Medal of Valor."