Lights & Sirens

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Tacoma firefighter given highest award for water rescue

Post by Stacia Glenn / The News Tribune on July 12, 2012 at 9:36 am |
July 12, 2012 9:36 am

Tacoma firefighter Matt Fleming has been awarded a medal of valor – the department’s highest honor – for rescuing a flailing swimmer in Commencement Bay.

It is only the fourth time in 12 years that the department has given out the award, which is reserved for emergency incidents where firefighters show bravery and courage.

Fleming earned the medal for his actions June 5, when crews responded to a capsizing boat in Commencement Bay. They found one person on board was able to swim to shore and the other was clinging to a floatation device about 100 feet offshore.

While waiting for fire boat Destiny to arrive, Fleming volunteered to get into the 45 degree water to help the swimmer, who appeared to be having a hard time staying afloat.

He secured a tag line and swam to the man, then secured him to the tag line and kept his head above water until rescuers were able to pull them both to safety.

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