If not for Kent Fire Lt. Bill Myers, firefighter Bryan Pengal's head-first fall into a burning basement might have turned out much worse.
Kent Fire Chief Dave Manthey and members of Kent City Council recognized Myers Wednesday for helping pull Pengal out of a house fire that destroyed a house owned by Kent State University on South Lincoln Street last month.
Myers, then an acting captain, and Pengal were among the first crew to respond to the fire at 128 S. Lincoln St. at about 5:30 a.m. Nov. 10.
Manthey said both men advanced into the house with a hose line to find the base of the fire and extinguish it.
"As they made their way through the smoke they did not see a section of the floor in front of them was missing," Manthey said.
Pengal fell head first 7 feet into the basement of the house, which was on fire and filled with burning debris. Myers could see Pengal was disoriented and hindered by fallen debris.
"That’s when the call went out," Manthey said. "Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! Firefighter down. Acting Capt. Myers without hesitation jumped into the hole. (His) quick action helped avert what could have been a tragic situation."
Myers, who had to fight through debris, helped Pengal to a stairwell where other firefighters pulled him from the house. Then Myers turned around, grabbed the hose line and put out the fire, Manthey said. Pengal was treated for minor injuries.
Myers received a commendation from the fire chief and a proclamation from Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala Wednesday in honor of his bravery.
He said the recognition proved humbling.
"What I see myself doing there was something that any one of these guys that you see over there would have done as well," Myers said, referring to other members of the fire department at the meeting. "I don’t see my actions as that special just because any one of us would have done the same thing."
The house, which stood vacant, was almost completely destroyed by the fire. Kent State planned to demolish the house as part of the Esplanade extension and razed the remains shortly after the fire.
Members of Myers' immediate and extended family attended Wednesday to see him receive the commendation, which was followed by a standing ovation.
"Nobody knows the risks more than our families," Manthey said.