Fellow Sandhills Compatriots,

Please follow the link below to the Pilot  “On-Line”  Article to read about our SAR Community Service awards Ceremony to 8 Southern Pines Fire Department Heroes and Life Saving personnel.

Sandhills Compatriots, Mike Saulnier, Mark Townsend, Rod Herbig, and Bruce Fensley attended the Awards Ceremony at the Southern Pines Fire House to present these SAR Medals and Certificates.

These Community Service Recognition Medals & Certificates awarded to these local Heroes, are funded by our SAR Dues, fundraising activities, and donations.

We all should be thankful that these Outstanding Community Service folks and Life Saving Heroes are serving us in Moore County.


Bruce Fensley

Southern Pines Firefighters Recognized for Life Saving Actions

Eight Southern Pines firefighters received recognition on Wednesday for saving a woman’s life last July after arriving at a structure fire on McNish Road. 

Three members received Life Saving medals because they removed her from the fire, and the firefighters assisting them received Heroism medals. 

“Let me assure you, life saves do not come easily,” Fire Chief Mike Cameron said. “They are not readily available. It’s not what you see on Chicago Fire or one of the 911 programs; it does not happen every episode. It does not happen every shift.”

The emergency call came in 10 minutes before 3 a.m. on July 4, referencing a fire on McNish Road in the Talamore Community, according to a statement read by Cameron at the ceremony. The 911 center advised a male resident, Harry Ulrich, escaped through a back bedroom door and called, but he could not account for his wife. She was last seen in the living room — the location of the fire.

C-shift was working the last half of their 24-hour shift when they received the call, got out of bed and were on the road in under two minutes, as per their training. 

They arrived on the scene as two crews. Engine 812 included Captain Tim Smith, Lieutenant Logan DeBerry, Driver and Operator John Wilson and firefighter Spencer Fallin. Engine 822 had Lieutenant Asa Bailey and firefighters Justin Taylor, Kaylee Jones and Matt Manovsky. 

“When first on scene, engine 812 saw no flames outside,” Cameron said. “Firefighter Fallin deployed an attack line to the front door while Captain Smith confirmed the husband’s wife was still inside the house.”

The crew from engine 812 could see fire and smoke inside the home, so DeBerry used forcible entry tools on the locked door to gain access.

“As they entered the house they encountered heavy fire, high heat and zero visibility due to the thick smoke conditions in the living room,” Cameron said. “The fire was extending to the left of the house toward the kitchen and also spreading to the right toward the bedrooms.”

Jones and Manovsky from engine 822 started a second attack line because of the heavy fire and entered with Bailey. Both crews fought the fire and began searching for Ulrich’s wife, Kathryn. Members of engine 822 searched the living room and moved left towards the kitchen while the other crew searched right, towards the bedrooms.

Outside, Wilson and Taylor established a hydrant connection for water supply and provided additional ventilation equipment because of the heat and smoke. 

“Everybody has a job to do, and the inside crew doesn’t function well … if that outside crew is not handling their responsibilities,” Cameron said. 

Smith found an unconscious woman lying face down in the first bedroom. He called for assistance from DeBerry and Fallen, who helped carry her to safety. 

“Due to the limited visibility, Captain Smith led the crew down the hall by maintaining one hand on the wall and one hand on the firefighters, guiding them to the doorway,” Cameron said.

Kathryn Ulrich received life-saving treatment from Moore County EMS and was transported alongside her husband to FirstHealth hospital. EMS treated him for minor burns and respiratory distress. They later went to the UNC Burn Clinic to check her respiratory system.

They were both at the recognition ceremony on Wednesday.

“It seems like it was a nightmare at first,” Harry Ulrich said. “And it was the scariest day of my life, especially the terror about what had happened to my wife. It was absolutely terrifying.”

He said the “incredible” response time and the “professionalism” of the fire department gave him the feeling “that she was going to be okay.”

“It’s incredible that we have such heroes like that in this town,” he said. 

Kathryn Ulrich said she was a little emotional after hearing the description of the night’s events because she has no recollection of what happened. 

“When we first met them, and they were telling us the story, and one of them said he really didn’t expect me to survive …”

Her husband interjected, “the way he explained that this is so rare is a real shocker to think about. … They said she had maybe 60 seconds.”

She further said, “this really is a miracle that I’m here.”

Members of the Sandhills chapter of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) were at the recognition ceremony as well. SAR representative Michael Saulnier spoke about the firefighter’s courage, echoing an earlier comment from Cameron about them not wanting attention. 

“It’s their job, just like the chief said, but they do it without hesitation. A lot of people run away from a burning building — they run towards it,” Saulnier said.

“Life Saving and Heroism awards, that’s a big deal,” he later said, thanking them for their work. 

Town Manager Reagan Parsons also congratulated the group. He shared a story from his younger years as a lifeguard, when he was involved with CPR saves. 

“I remember very vividly the training kicking in, the thought of ‘this is a job; it’s got to get done,’ and then just the exhaustive relief when it all worked out in the end,” Parsons said. “And a number of you have probably been involved in that multiple times, and what I will say about that experience is: there was no fire, there was no heat, the threat to me was not nearly what a number of you involve yourselves in, so I’d say congratulations, but it feels a bit odd because, as chief said, you all pursue this as a living. It’s what you do. 

“So if congratulations isn’t the right word, I do say thank you. Thank you on behalf of not only those saved in this instance but for the job you do every day, for the protection of the life of not only our citizens but those traveling through the community and anybody that finds themselves in harm’s way.”

Also dispatched to the scene were ladder truck 81 and automatic aid partners. Ladder truck 81 brought Cameron, Deputy Fire Chief Ted Horvath, volunteer firefighter Jay Hough and Assistant Chief Ken Skipper. Automatic aid partners were Aberdeen Fire Department, Cypress Pointe Fire and Rescue, Pinehurst Fire Department, Whispering Pines Fire Department and Moore County EMS.

Taken from The Pilot Newspaper (Southern Pines, NC).  Contact Ana Risano at (910) 585-6396 or ana@thepilot.com.