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Grand Rapids Fire Department presents public with a night to honor our heroes

Posted at 11:41 PM, Oct 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-14 23:41:01-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.--The Grand Rapids Fire Department responded to 22,000 alarms this year, many of those ending with a life being saved. Yet, sometimes many stories of lives saved go untold. On Wednesday night, those who put themselves in harms way to help others were honored at the Grand Rapids Fire Department 2015 Awards Ceremony.

"Every firefighter makes a difference," said Matt Keusch, a Grand Rapids firefighter who is on the GRFD Awards committee. "We don't want the recognition. They'll just say, Hey I was doing my job."

For the 13th consecutive year, the Grand Rapids Fire Department  reflected on those who have made an impact on the lives of others, whether it was performing CPR or pulling someone from a burning building.

Wednesday night, the fire department gave out more than 70 awards, recognizing the outstanding efforts of the many men and women firefighters of Grand Rapids.

Several firefighters received Distinguished Service Recognition awards for their outstanding service at the department from five to 30 years.

Other awards included Firefighter of the Year,  a Medal of Commendation Award, a Merit Award, Medical Service Awards, and some Citizen Fire Service Awards that were given to people who assisted in saving a life using CPR.

Through the handshakes, hugs and applause, firefighters we spoke with said this ceremony reminded them what a privilege it is to do their job.

"Tthroughout the year we do a lot of good deeds that go untold," Keusch said. "Tonight, we're just recognizing a few of those, because a lot of times firefighters don't want any recognition. "You'll probably hear about 10 percent of the truth, the real stories."

One of those stories involved firefighter Jim McIntyre, who received the 2015 Merit Award for pulling a man out of a burning building. "I found a guy lying on the kitchen floor," McIntyre said. "There was a small kitchen fire at the time, and I dragged him outside to the rest of the crews. I found out he was having a diabetic emergency going on, and luckily we got him out."

Despite his bravery, selflessness, and dedication, McIntyre repeated the sentiment of his comrades and said, "It's just part of the job, it's what we're trained to do."