Lima firefighters thanked for averting tragedy

LIMA — A local restauranteur and leader of a contracting team on Wednesday highlighted the efforts of Lima firefighters to avert tragedy earlier this year.

The Lima Fire Department recognized Captain Lee Short, firefighter Kane Swaney and firefighter Tony Kroeger for their life-saving work on July 1st in downtown Lima, saving three lives and a historic building.

“What was a very unfortunate morning was minutes away from being a very tragic morning,” said John Heaphy, of Good Food Restaurants and owner of the Callahan Building, 113 E. Spring St., Lima. “Not only were there three construction workers on the roof that morning that desperately needed to get off, I knew them all. What you do and how you serve this city is just respectable and deserves a lot of respect from everybody.”

The firefighters worked quickly to rescue the workers that morning, said Brad Miller, LFD’s batallion chief.

“Their means of egress was a scissor lift they had used to access the roof, but it was blocked by flames,” Miller said. “Engine 1 arrived at approximately 9:10 in the morning — two minutes after the initial dispatch — and quickly set up and deployed its tower ladder to rescue the workers. Captain Short and these two removed the construction workers in under two minutes.

“There’s a quote from the book ‘Step Up and Lead’ that says ‘you will perform from the way that you prepare.’ I think these gentlemen prepared and performed admirably because of it.”

The vice president of Miller Contracting Group, Pat Miller, weighed in on the fire and the impact of the Lima Fire Department.

“I don’t know if there is anything that I can do to show my appreciation to the extent I feel,” he said. “Just reliving some of the things that day and what could have happened and what did not happen because of what you gentlemen did here. What you do daily means more to me than you will ever know. Our organization got a plaque that hopefully you can put up somewhere for people to see and understand the crisis diverted that day.

“We had big plans for it (the building). They may be interrupted, but they are not ended and it is all credit to you guys.”

The building remodeling project will continue thanks to their efforts, Heaphy said.

“The structural engineers have looked at the building and made the point that the basement, the first floor and the second-floor structure are salvageable and also the facade,” he said. “’We are doing all we can right now to save the facade and to save the building for the future project that was such an intricate part of the vision. Thank you to the whole fire department for what you do day in and day out.”

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