Fire Chief Alan Wax presented several awards at the March 19, Des Plaines City Council meeting. All of the awards pertained to a fire in the basement of a townhouse in the 1300 block of Fargo Ave., on Dec. 23, 2011.
Life Saving Awards were granted to Lt. Michael Copeland, firefighter/paramedic Robert Prieto, Lt. Mike Iorio, firefighter/paramedic Russ Olish and firefighter Brian Carmicheal, who were actively involved in locating and rescuing the victims at the fire scene.
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Unit Citations were granted to Acting Battalion Chief Jim Hall, Lieutenants Brad Butler, Gary Despaltro and Acting Lieutenant Minas Klikas, Firefighter/Engineers William Butenschoen, Terry Dillon, Kevin Felde and Backup Engineers Robert McLaren and Ryan Petty, Firefighter/Paramedics Steve Berndt, Nicholas Mardirosian, Kevin Murphy, Mark Pawlyk, Brian Rieger, Michael Rioch, Edward Rogers, and Sean Schielie.
In addition, Benjy Banuelos, 10, received a Certificate of Recognition for his quick actions that saved his family. Banuelos was in the basement with his grandmother, aunt and cousin when the fire occurred, when a gasoline can was knocked over causing fumes to ignite when coming in contact with the water heater. Banuelos alerted his family members to exit the home. Once outside, he performed stop, drop and roll to extinguish flames on his clothing and then dialed 911 from a cellphone bringing the fire department to the scene.
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