It’s not everyday you pull someone out of a burning car, even if you’re a firefighter.
That act of valor is what led the Renton Regional Fire Authority to honor one lieutenant with the Medal of Valor. Lt. Marcus Rismiller and his crew on Engine 13 received the accolade at the Governance Board Meeting, Monday, June 10.
Deputy Fire Chief Roy Gonsolus said Rismiller’s outstanding performance was submitted to the Recognition Committee for review. For a Medal of Valor, the recommendation then needs to go through the fire chief.
Gonsolus said the Medal of Valor is a rare award to receive, and a high honor.
Rismiller received the medal due to his actions in saving a woman from a burning car on March 6.
When Rismiller and his crew arrived on the scene, somebody said there was a person still inside the flaming car.
As his crew quickly began to spray water on the fire, Rismiller moved into the smoke-filled vehicle and found the driver sitting there with her hands on the wheels. He was wearing his full equipment and had no injuries from the rescue.
She had likely been in the smoking car for about six minutes.
He pulled her out to safety, walked over and stayed with her at the sidewalk trying to keep her from going back to her car.
Then they had the fire knocked out in a few minutes.
He said in that moment, you are thinking about who is in immediate danger, after that, the next priority is solving whatever the problem is at the incident.
He found out he was receiving the Medal of Valor in May.
Rismiller said he was surprised as he didn’t think he did something spectacular enough to deserve something like that.
“It’s almost like you’re getting a medal for what you’re trained to do,” Rismiller said. “But knowing they were impressed by how you did it makes you feel good that all the training paid off.”
Gonsolus said that’s often what firefighters say, but his actions are the reason that woman is still alive today.
Rismiller has been with the Renton Regional Fire Authority for 13 years. Before that, he was a volunteer firefighter at Eastside Fire and Rescue.
As a lieutenant, he’s in charge of everyone at the station during his shift. Rismiller said he keeps track of daily activities and training.
He said they do drills on a variety of things, so each person knows exactly what their objectives are. One person on the crew during the incident had only been on the job for two months, and was prepared.
“It’s kind of like a sport, you work on the basic things, and get really good at those. Then when the situation is different, you’re able to adapt your training to that situation,” Rismiller said.
He doesn’t need to say more than a few words on scene for the crew to know what they need to do, he said.
His crew was well-trained, quickly got to the scene and handled everything quickly and efficiently. That pulled together to help Rismiller receive the medal, Gonsolus said.
“I’m proud of the fact he and his crew were prepared to handle the emergency situation. It’s what we’re here to do, while not all are life and death, when it happens we are prepared,” Gonsolus said.
At the meeting where Rismiller received the reward was his crew, his wife, and several families for five firefighters that were also promoted that day: Lt. Ilya Moncharnyy, Lt. Dylan Guyl, Lead Deputy Fire Marshal Eric Donnerstag and Captain Ryan Morgan.