Retired Des Plaines Fire Lieutenant Michael Copeland and Firefighter/Paramedic Robert Prieto were the recent recipients of the 100 Club of Chicago's prestigious Award of Valor for their heroic rescue of a young child and his grandmother from a basement fire in December, 2011. The presentation was made by Des Plaines Fire Chief Alan Wax at an awards ceremony, sponsored by the 100 Club of Chicago, on the evening of November 8, 2012, at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza Hotel, Chicago.
According to Fire Chief Wax, during the fire, there was a delay in being able to pull hose to extinguish the blaze or provide protection due to the distance from the nearest fire engine. Copeland and Prieto, at great personal risk, traveled through the flames on the fire-compromised stairway to get to the basement and search for, and rescue, the victims, who were unconscious and not breathing at the time they were rescued. The victims subsequently made full recoveries after receiving weeks of treatment in the hospital.
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The 100 Club of Chicago is a civilian organization that provides for the families of police officers, firefighters and paramedics who have lost their lives in the line-of-duty. The Club helps families ease the financial burdens associated with the tragic event, including immediate financial assistance and the ongoing costs of higher education. All federal, state, county and local police officers, firefighters and paramedics stationed in Cook County are included. Consistent with its commitment to the families of fallen police officers, firefighters and paramedics, the 100 Club of Chicago also
recognizes the valor displayed in the line-of-duty by today's active-duty police officers, firefighters and paramedics. The special presentation ceremony is held annually for the Award recipients. This year, there were seven recipients, including Copeland and Prieto.
Chief Wax praised the actions of the firefighters, and recognized that their performance at this fire, and every day, reflects the highest traditions and ideals of the fire and emergency services and the Des Plaines Fire Department. Lieutenant Copeland and Firefighter Prieto thanked the 100 Club for not only the award, but also for all the work the Club does on behalf of the emergency responders and their families. Earlier this year, Lieutenant Copeland retired from the Fire Department after nearly 37 years of service.