Brampton firefighter receives rare award for heroic rescue in St. Catharines last winter

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Published October 21, 2021 at 11:32 am

A St, Catharines man, who works as a Brampton firefighter, has been awarded the Medal of Merit Award for a water rescue he made last winter.

On December 17, 2020, Andreas Fortis, a firefighter with Brampton Fire and Emergency Services (BFES) was off-duty and on his way to the gym in St. Catharines, when he saw a woman he believed to be in danger on the Fourth Avenue Bridge.

Fortis pulled his car over, and as he approached the woman, she rolled off the bridge and plunged 30 feet into Twelve Mile Creek.

Fortis quickly called emergency services, then ran along the banks of the Creek, before he found an a spot where he could access the water.

Without thinking of his own safety, he dove into the water after the woman. After reaching her, he carried her back to shore.

First responders arrived shortly after, and the woman was taken to a nearby hospital where she has since made a full recovery.

“Fortis distinguished himself by acting without hesitation to perform a fast, cold-water rescue with disregard for his own safety to save a young woman with a family from certain death,” Councillor Rowena Santos said during a Brampton City Council meeting on Wednesday (October 20). “This demonstrates the meaning of bravery and sacrifice.”

The Medal of Merit is awarded to firefighters who show good judgement or take calculated risks to save lives during an emergency.

Since its inception in 1983, only 57 Medals have been given out for 35 separate incidents involving firefighters from 27 departments across the province.

“I just want to say how proud I am of Fortis. What he did was truly heroic,” Bill Boyes, fire chief for BFES, said during the meeting. “As firefighters, we don’t use that word amongst ourselves very often, but what he did to save that young woman was truly incredible.”

Fortis credited his training for his quick reaction. “I really appreciate the recognition and I want to say that I was just doing what I was trained to do,” he said, before praising his colleagues at Brampton Fire Station 202.

“We’re lucky to have some of the best first responders in Canada in Brampton, and heroic examples like this highlight the character of our first responders,” Mayor Patrick Brown said. “When it comes to danger, a lot of people run away, but our firefighters run towards it, and we’re grateful in Brampton.”

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