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Engineer Stephen Gunn (Peoria Fire-Medical Department, Arizona)

Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor

Engineer Stephen Gunn (Peoria Fire-Medical Department, Arizona) is being honored for rescuing a man from a burning house without regard for his own safety.

On April 7, 2016, the Phoenix Fire Department received a call to respond to a fire at a large single-story home in which several people were trapped. It was later determined that this was a home invasion and arson fire that had quickly spread through the house and caused several propane tanks on the back patio to explode. Engine 193 from neighboring Peoria was the first fire unit to arrive on the scene. Through a blown-out picture window, Engineer Stephen Gunn observed an unconscious victim several feet inside a room full of smoke and roiling flames.

Without hesitation, Engineer Gunn stepped into the flames to rescue the victim. For 40 seconds he worked inside the blaze, his helmet melting, his protective gear blackening and his skin burning. Finally, just before the room flashed with flames, he was able to pass the victim to the waiting hands of his captain. The victim was not breathing and the firefighters immediately initiated lifesaving measures.

Engineer Gunn's actions were caught on a sheriff's deputy's body camera, without which the extent of the courage shown by Engineer Gunn may never have been fully understood. Engineer Gunn was treated for his burns at the Arizona Burn Center and was back on his next shift. The victim succumbed to his injuries a few days later.

Date Published: September 8, 2020