Pair of Carbon firefighters honored with Spirit of Courage Awards
A pair of Carbon County firefighters have received high acclaim for their heroic deeds while in the line of duty.
Capt. Douglas Nothstein, of the Lehighton Fire Department, and Lt. Justin Smith, of the Franklin Township Fire Department, were among those honored at the 12th Annual Valley Preferred Spirit of Courage Award Celebration held Tuesday at Lehigh Valley Hospital — Muhlenberg in Bethlehem.
The event is for first responders, firefighters, and those they saved to gather to celebrate courage, and to thank people who reduce fire injury and death through education.
Both Nothstein and Smith received the award for their roles in an attempted rescue July 15, 2016, at a home on Rock Street in Franklin Township.
When firefighters arrived at the home, they found the entire back of the house engulfed in flames, and the interior filled with smoke.
Smith entered the home from the front and did a quick search of the living room and kitchen, while Nothstein entered from the rear.
They found the victim, William Evans, 80, in the kitchen and dragged him outside, where they began CPR.
Despite their efforts, Evans later died from severe burns and smoke inhalation.
It was that type of heroism displayed by Nothstein and Franklin Township fire Chief Lynn Diehl that garnered them the award.
“Through that, Chief Diehl nominated Justin and myself for the Spirit of Courage Award,” Nothstein said.
“They do an award to recognize people that put their lives in jeopardy while trying to save somebody in a fire-type situation.”
Nothstein, who has been with the Lehighton Fire Department for 20 years, said it was an “honor” to be recognized.
“We don’t do it for the recognition, we do it because we agreed to be volunteers,” he said. “We want to help people out, that’s why we do what we do.”
Smith, who has been with the Franklin Township Fire Department for 20 years, said it was a “very humbling experience.”
“You don’t do this for that recognition,” Smith said. “The fire service in general, it’s a team effort.”
“I wish they could recognize everybody, but they only recognize people who have direct contact with the victim.”
Valley Preferred, the Burn Prevention Network and Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Regional Burn Center, launched the Valley Preferred Spirit of Courage Award Program in 2005 to honor people in eastern and northeastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey who have risked their lives to save others from a burn or death by fire.
The program also recognizes individuals and groups who have done an outstanding job promoting fire safety or burn prevention education.