LIMA — Lima Fire Department Captain George Davis on Friday recounted how, during an early-morning house fire last November, fellow firefighter Matt Hammons begged his superior officer to be allowed to enter the fully-engulfed second story of the burning building.
The fireman affectionately known around Lima’s Central Fire Station as “Reggie” told Davis he heard a child crying for help.
“Reggie just kept saying, ‘Let me go. I can hear him,’” Davis recalled. “He kept insisting.”
So Davis gave the go-ahead for Hammons to enter an area of the home that placed the Lima firefighter in great personal peril.
What happened next was a series of life-changing and life-saving events. Hammons climbed the stairs to the second level of the burning home and found 6-year-old Landyn Douglas in the hallway, crying for help. Intense heat kept the firefighter from carrying the child back down the stairwell, so he located a window and passed Landyn — who at that point had become unresponsive — out the window to a fellow firefighter and into safe hands.
Hammons then descended the stairs, again risking his life to do so.
Hammons said he was merely reacting to the training he has undergone, and continues to receive daily, as a member of the Lima Fire Department.
“We have daily training here at the department, and on that day I just had to fall back on my instincts,” Hammons said.
Young Landyn suffered third-degree burns over 50 percent of his body and spent nearly three months in Shriners Hospital in Cincinnati receiving treatment for those injuries.
According to his grandmother and legal guardian, Hellen Douglas, Landyn returned to school earlier this year. Hammons was there that day as well.
“Landyn and Matt have a real bond,” Douglas said. “He (Hammons) even called Landyn that night after his first day of school and asked him how it went.”
State Fire Marshal Jeff Hussey, who was in Lima Friday to present Hammons with an Ohio State Fire Marshal Heroism Award, said the instincts exhibited by Hammons “saved a life, and that’s a gift to the community and to this family.”
Lima Fire Chief Bruce Black said the entire B Team that responded to the fire at 625 Elm St. that morning did outstanding work. “But especially Matt. He selflessly did his job, and it was a heck of a job,” Black said.
By receiving the herosim award, Hammons automatically has been placed into consideration for additional recognition at the State Fire Marshal’s annual hall of fame ceremony in September.