Chicago Firefighter Receives Ray Downey Award

April 19, 2012
Saving a fellow firefighter from a well-involved attic fire at great risk to personal safety earned Firefighter Larry McCormack the award.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Saving a fellow firefighter from a well-involved attic fire at great risk to personal safety earned Chicago Firefighter Larry McCormack the 2012 Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award and a $35,000 check, presented Tuesday morning at the Fire Department Instructors Conference.

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McCormack, who is a 16-year veteran of the fire service, responded to a structure fire on Aug. 25, 2011 and was assisting in a search of the two-story residential building.

An order to evacuate was given due to deteriorating fire conditions. During the evacuation, a firefighter left the protection of a hose line and became disorientated. He then lost his helmet and the netting on his SCBA mask melted and the mask became dislodged.

The captain with the team doing the attic search tried to find the firefighter, but could not. Exhausted from his rescue attempt, the captain fell down the stairs knowing there were other firefighters there waiting to help. The captain reported that Firefighter Gerald Carter was trapped in the attic.

McCormack decided to go back upstairs and look for his brother firefighter, and succeeded in doing so by keying in on his activated PASS device.

After locating Carter, McCormack dragged him 10 feet to the stairwell where he was helped by others on the scene, including paramedics who successfully revived Carter where he was treated for his injuries.

On Tuesday morning, McCormack reported that Carter had recently returned to work and asked to “go right back on the knob.”

In accepting the medal and the accompanying $35,000 check, McCormack was quick to share the accolades with others in his company who also contributed to saving one of their own.

The Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award is given to remember the life and career achievements of  FDNY Deputy Chief Ray Downey who died while commanding rescue operations at the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Deputy Downey was a 39-year veteran of FDNY and the most highly decorated firefighter in the department’s history. Coincidentally, McCormack was also a member of the FDNY between 2004 and 2006 before joining the Chicago Fire Department in 2007.

The award has been given out each year since 2002 at FDIC and is awarded by the Fire Engineering Courage and Valor Foundation.

Each year, firefighters are nominated for the honor and are selected by a committee which includes FDNY Battalion Chief Joe and Chuck Downey, sons of the award’s namesake.

In the selection of McCormack as the 2012 award winner, Downey’ sons said his actions most exemplified their father’s commitment to the fire service and they were pleased to be part of the selection process.

“His courage and super human efforts were in accord with the highest traditions of the Chicago Fire Department and the fire service,” Chuck Downey said.

Firehouse® has no affiliation with FDIC®, which is owned and produced by PennWell.


Ed Ballam/Firehouse
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