LIMA — All the attention seems to embarrass Matt Hammons. His peers, however, insist it is well-deserved.
The young Lima firefighter was honored Tuesday for a third time for his heroism and selfless performance of his duties in saving the life of a young child from a burning residence last year.
For those actions, Hammons was the recipient of the Lima Noon Sertoma Club’s Firefighter of the Year award during ceremonies held Tuesday at the Old Barn Out Back restaurant.
The club has renamed the award it has presented since 1972 in honor of its first recipient. The award handed out annually to firefighters who “exhibit the highest degree of dedication to the fire department and the community and must show loyalty, productivity and professionalism in carrying out their duties” is now known as the John Brookman Firefighter of the Year award in honor of the late Sertoma Club member and one-time Lima fire chief.
Hammons has previously been honored with an Ohio Heroism from State Fire Marshal Jeff Hussey and was also recognized by the Lima Safety Coalition for his rescue of 6-year-old Landyn Douglas from a burning home at 625 W. Elm St., Lima, nearly a year ago.
The fireman humbly says he was simply doing what he’d been trained to do. After thanking the Sertomans for the award, Hammon addressed his fellow firefighters. “Without you guys, this wouldn’t have been able to happen. I was just doing what any other firefighter would have done that day.”
Lima Fire Chief Bruce Black, however, said Hammon braved life-threatening conditions when he went to the second floor to rescue the child from the burning building after he heard a child crying coming from upstairs.
In addition to recognizing Hammons’ bravery, the Sertoma Club members also celebrated the life of Brookman, who passed away since the award was presented last year to firefighter David Coulter.
Sertoman Margie Murphy Miller said Brookman, a longtime club member who retired from the Lima Fire Department in 2000 after 42 years of service and who was the first recipient of the club’s Firefighter of the Year award, was a mentor who helped shape her life.
“Chief Brookman, that’s what we called him, had a way of making you want to volunteer,” Miller said. “He did a lot for this club that went unnoticed, and I try to follow in his footsteps. Chief will be forever respected and forever missed by the Lima Sertoma Club.”