BEACON FALLS — For First Selectman Gerard Smith, the actions of residents Ken Battis and Tim Quinn characterize the town of Beacon Falls to a tee.
“You guys epitomize what Beacon Falls is all about, neighbors helping neighbors, everybody pitches in. We can agree to disagree, but when the chips are down everybody pulls the rope the same way,” Smith said.
Battis, 54, and Quinn, 42, were honored Monday night at the firehouse by Smith and Beacon Hose Company No. 1 for their actions during separate fires in September.
On Sept. 8 a fire destroyed the home at 144 Blackberry Hill Road. Battis was driving by when he noticed the fire and stopped. He was on the scene when firefighters arrived, said firefighter and Beacon Hose spokesman Jeremy Rodorigo.
Rodorigo recalled he was talking with the incident commander on the scene when Battis alerted him that he heard a man crying for help coming from the back of the house. Battis led firefighters to where he heard the cries. The homeowner was found lying face down in tall grass just a few feet away from the fire and the extreme heat was burning him, Rodorigo said.
Firefighters carried the man, who suffered second-degree burns to a substantial part of his body, to safety. Rodorigo said the man has since been discharged from the burn center at Bridgeport Hospital.
Rodorigo said firefighters didn’t see the man initially and would not have likely found him for several more minutes. If it wasn’t for Battis, he said, the man could have died.
“The fact that [Battis] made sure that somebody knew that somebody was crying for help and just didn’t ignore it and didn’t just assume the firemen were going to do their thing probably saved this man’s life,” Rodorigo said.
After receiving his award, Battis told the volunteer firefighters in the room that they were the heroes, not him.
“You guys are the real heroes out there,” he said. “You guys do this every day. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and did what I could do just to help somebody out. You guys are the real heroes.”
Two days after the fire on Blackberry Hill Road, Quinn was in his apartment at the two-family home at 95 and 97 South Main St. when his neighbor banged on his door. The neighbor’s apartment was on fire and he asked Quinn to call 911.
After calling 911, Quinn went next door to help.
“I didn’t think twice,” Quinn said following the ceremony.
Quinn said when he went into the apartment it was filled with smoke and he bumped into his neighbor, who asked him to help his mother. Quinn then carried the elderly woman out of the apartment and kept going back in to try and put out the fire until help arrived.
Rodorigo said time was of the essence as the woman is disabled and requires oxygen. She was treated on the scene and several days in the hospital for smoke inhalation, he said. Had Quinn waited for firefighters and EMS to arrive there’s a strong likelihood she would have died.
“She would not have lived very long in the environment she was in,” Rodorigo said.
Quinn thanked the firefighters for arriving quickly and saving the house. On being honored, he said, “It feels good. I don’t think I did anything out of the ordinary.”