Recipients of 45th Annual Union County Valor Awards presented by the 200 Club
NJ.com - Patrick Wirkus and Sean Horton had barely a year of service on the Elizabeth Fire Department in April 2013 when they responded to blaze in a garage that was illegally converted to apartments. Bars covered the second-floor window.
"A woman inside had her face pressed against the bars," Wirkus said. With a large cart parked under the window, Wirkus had to set a ladder against the garage and leaned over to reach the window, using a power saw to cut the bars. Before he was done, thick smoke stalled the saw.
He and other firefighters - who stood on the cart - pulled the bars off. Without an air mask, Wirkus couldn't enter the building, so Horton climbed ladder, crawled in through the window, grabbed the woman, who had passed out, and handed her to another firefighter on the ladder. The woman was taken to a hospital where she was treated and later released. Wirkus and Horton each received awards last week.
Wirkus is the third member of his family to receive the award, following his father, Elizabeth Deputy Chief Lathey Wirkus, and his uncle, Union Township Battalion Chief Tim Wirkus.