Larry King Tells First Alert Award Story

Larry King Tells First Alert Award Story

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It's always a pleasure for me to be part of the First Alert Professional Life Safety Presentation. This year's award is really special, because it tells the story of a private citizen and a fire officer who saved a family from a devastating house fire.

It all began near midnight in Tucson, Arizona. Hyme Velasco was home when the doorbell rang. A neighbor said the house next door was on fire, but she didn't think anyone was inside. Velasco, who saw smoke, but no flames, went into the backyard to hose down his wall just in case.

He heard small voices crying for help. Velasco went into action, jumped the wall that separates the two homes. Running barefoot, he saw two girls standing at the open window struggling to remove the screen. He yanked out the screen, pulled the younger sister from the dense smoke, and then the older child.

The girls told them that their mother was still inside. Velasco jumped into the window, but stepped on something sharp and fell to the ground. Breathing in black smoke he realized he wouldn't be able to rescue her, at the same time now firefighters arrived.

As they were securing the water supply, the radio blared that someone was trapped inside. Captain Fred Baird donned his gear and entered the home with a thermal imaging camera. He found a room heavily involved in fire, but continued passed the room to conduct his search.

In conditions of zero visibility he crawled down the hall, without the aid of a charged hose line. Checking one room with no result, he then reached a closed door. Entering the room, he couldn't see anyone, but, he heard faint noise.

He stopped and he listened, and after a few seconds he heard the sound again. He moved in the direction of the sound to the corner of the room. Under a large pile of toys and other items, he found the mother curled up, unconscious and occasionally gasping for air.

Calling for help, Captain Baird dragged the woman to the hall where firefighter Andy Rico assisted him. Baird held her arms and Rico grabbed her legs, they crawled through the black smoke to the front door were paramedics were standing by.

After five days in a specialized care facility, the mother returned home. Now there's no doubt that Captain Baird if did not perform an aggressive search, she would not be alive today. Hyme Velasco and Captain Fred Baird are two people who took truly heroic action, on what could have been a very tragic night.

They are extremely deserving of the First Alert Professional Life Safety Award. Working together, they saved a family from the deadly effects of a house fire.

Now to all of you, I applaud you on the work you do every day. By spreading the life safety message you are providing such a valuable service to your neighbors. Keep up the great work, and have a wonderful convention. This is Larry King Live.