Five Ocala Fire Rescue employees were honored recently as Hometown Heroes.
The ceremony took place at Fire Station 1, located at 320 NE 8th Ave., and featured a presentation by Hires-Baxley. The event marked the 3rd Annual Hometown Heroes awards.
One firefighter, two fire equipment operators and two captains were recognized for efforts that proved invaluable in resolving each of the emergencies to which they responded.
Those firefighters who were honored included:
- Firefighter Shantelle Nichols was recognized for his courageous actions searching for occupants in a home threatened by flames from a vacant structure on fire next door, despite being off-duty. His immediate action allowed crews to focus on containing the fire to the structure of origin. Nichols not only assisted his teammates before their arrival, but he also remained on scene to operate a fire hose and help as needed, demonstrating an absolute commitment to his profession and community.
- Capt. Jesse Blaire was recognized for his integral role in Ocala Fire Rescue’s fight against COVID-19. Proposing a strike team dedicated to Coronavirus responses, Blaire’s trailblazing methods proved vital in decreasing exposures to the virus for citizens and first responders alike.
- Capt. John Toms and fire equipment operators Ryan Brady and Jagger Maguire were recognized for their life-saving actions during an apartment structure fire. Upon arrival at a fire scene, this crew learned that a senior citizen was unaccounted for. As they prepared to search the building billowing with smoke, a second man was spotted attempting to evacuate through a second-floor window. Brady and Maguire laddered the window to help bring the man down safely. Meanwhile, Toms searched the first-floor apartment units for the senior. He then located, awoke and guided the person through the heavy smoke and out of the burning building. For actions that helped save two, Toms, Brady and Maguire each received Act of Valor Awards.
“We are overjoyed for each of the team members recognized today,” said Public Information Officer Ashley Lopez. “Because we know that they would repeat their actions without hesitation, time and time again.”