Fire Marshal’s Office awards firefighters for bravery during 2019 house fire


Photo Courtesy: Champaign Fire Department

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Several City firefighters were awarded Monday for rescuing two people from a 2019 house fire.

In a news release, officials said five firefighters were given the 2019 Unit Citation Award by the Office of the Illinois Fire Marshal. Those firefighters included:

  • Lieutenant Jason Rector (Squad 171)
  • Firefighter Josh Plese (Squad 171)
  • Acting Captain Chip Haake (Ladder 161)
  • Acting Engineer Paul Doyle (Ladder 161)
  • Firefighter Tad Worley (Ladder 161)

Officials said the fire happened on Sherwood Court in December of 2019. They stated during that fire, those firefighters entered “a heavily-involved resident charged with smoke and fire to rescue two fire victims.”

As the fire chief, I am extremely proud of the outstanding men and women of the fire department who are committed to serving the residents and visitors of the city of Champaign. Their dedication to the training and preparation necessary to react and perform in some of the most dangerous environments is evident.

Without the continued support of the City Council, we would be unable to deliver such an outstanding level of service.

Gary Ludwig, Chief – Champaign Fire Department

The fire department said the Unit Citation Award is given “for an act of service in the line of duty, demonstrating excellence, teamwork, and professionalism in service to the citizens of the state of Illinois.” They also said the Firehouse Magazine Valor Award Committee recognized the firefighters with the 2019 Unit Citation Award Honorable Mention.

A brief ceremony was held Monday outside of the Champaign Fire Department’s headquarters. The fire department said awards are usually given at the Annual Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Fire Fighting Medal of Honor Awards Ceremony. However, the Fire Marshal’s Office could not hold the larger event because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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