Jacksonville firefighters honored for saving family

Rescue units used new thermal imaging technology to save 4 people.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Wednesday morning, firefighter from the Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department were given lifesaving awards for saving four people from a two-alarm apartment fire on the morning after Christmas.

The fire started in the kitchen of one unit at the Landon Imperial Apartments in St. Nicholas with five people trapped inside.

Sadly, a 6-year-old girl was killed, but rescuers were able to keep everyone else alive, thanks to thermal imaging technology that the department bought last year.

They are the men and women who risk their lives in danger to save others every single day and that risk became a reality on the morning of December 26th when the apartment caught fire and rescuers rushed in.

"One of the witnesses said that there were babies in there and it was pretty much a mad rush. Everybody that was on scene was trying to get in there and help," Scott Kumm of JFRD Ladder 1 said.

Firefighters found out that the family of five was trapped inside, unconscious from the smoke.

"You can't see this far in front of your face, you keep wiping your masks to see if you can see, but you can't see," Eric Prosswimmer, JFRD Engine 28, said.

One by one, Jacksonville's finest pulled the family out and performed CPR, saving four of them, but tragically losing 6-year-old Jamiyah Smith who was unable to handle the massive amount of smoke in the apartment.

 "The men and women of Jacksonville Fire and Rescue have proven once again the quality of the department that we have here in Jacksonville," Chief Martin Senterfit, JFRD Director, said.

The Bullard Company, the maker of the thermal imaging cameras that allowed firefighters to see through the overwhelming smoke and rescue the family they rushed to save, recognized the first responders on Wednesday for their heroics.

"What happened that night, on Dec. 26, was somewhat miraculous," Rob Healy of the Bullard Company said.

Thought their job isn't any less dangerous, firefighters said the new technology is helping.

The family these heroes helped save have since moved out Jacksonville, but they said that they are so appreciative of the help from firefighters in the community.

They are now trying to get their lives back to normal and say they are never going to forget the little girl that they lost.