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Captain William Reynolds and Firefighter Hope Scott (Beach Fire Department, VA)

Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor

On October 12, 2010, the Virginia Beach Fire Department received multiple 911 calls for a house fire with people trapped in a single family dwelling. Engine 7 with Captain William Reynolds and Firefighter Hope Scott, arrived on scene. Captain Reynolds reported heavy fire from the corner of the first floor spreading to the second floor. Two family members were on the porch roof attempting to enter the structure and were screaming that a baby and was in the second floor bedroom and the great grandmother was still inside. Heavy smoke and heat conditions forced the civilian would-be rescuers to withdraw from their rescue efforts.

Captain Reynolds, hearing the pleas of the family and realizing time was of the essence, made the tactical decision to enter the second floor window with Firefighter Scott without the protection of a fire hose. This tactic is known as Vent-Enter-Search in the fire service, and is considered a high risk maneuver to the personnel making the entry.

Captain Reynolds and Firefighter Scott climbed a ladder and entered the second floor window without the protection of a charged fire hose (hand-line). They encountered high heat and zero visibility conditions. Captain Reynolds was equipped with a thermal imaging camera to aid in the rescue effort. However, the high heat conditions rendered the camera ineffective and they were forced the crew to crawl blindly through the assorted debris. The fire still raged underneath the bedroom, made the floor so hot that Firefighter Scott could feel the heat through her protective gear. Captain Reynolds encouraged Firefighter Scott to keep pushing on as they knew the child was located somewhere in the room.

Approximately two minutes into the search, Firefighter Scott heard what she thought was a faint cry. She started sweeping the floor with her arms and located an infant lying on a mattress located on the floor covered in makeshift bedding material. Firefighter Scott scooped up the infant and handed the lifeless infant to Captain Reynolds as he was positioned near the window. Captain Reynolds handed the infant through the window to firefighters who were standing on an egress ladder. The infant was not breathing and unresponsive once she was removed from the structure. Resuscitation efforts were immediately started and EMS personnel transported the infant to Norfolk General Hospital Burn Center. The infant has since made a full recovery without any major medical issues or deficits.

After Firefighter Scott located the infant, she and Captain Reynolds continued to search the second floor for the other reported fire victim. Other responding personnel found the 73 year old woman, lying on the stairs leading to the second floor. She was unconscious and unresponsive, suffering from smoke inhalation. She was removed from the structure and resuscitation efforts immediately started. Unfortunately, she died from her injuries three days later.

Captain Reynolds and Firefighter Hope Scott demonstrated incredible bravery and self sacrifice in their decision to enter the floor directly above the uncontrolled fire without the protection of a charged hose-line and placed themselves at one of the greatest risks recognized in the fire service. Their fast, decisive actions and disregard for their own safety truly resulted in the saving of the life of a young infant who would have succumbed from the smoke and fire if not for their brave actions.

a man in a firefighter captain uniform standing in front of three flags and smiling
a photo from the waist up of a dark-haired woman firefighter wearing a blue dress shirt and dark tie smiling at the camera
Date Published: September 9, 2020