Berlin Responders Recognized For Heroic Actions

SNOW HILL – A baker’s dozen of local firefighters, emergency service providers and law enforcement officers were commended this week for their combined efforts to save a Berlin man from his burning home back in October.

The County Commissioners on Tuesday honored 10 Berlin Fire Department firefighters and emergency services personnel, along with one Berlin Police Department officer, one Ocean Pines Fire Department paramedic and a Worcester County Sheriff’s Deputy for saving the life of Berlin resident Rodney Dale Belmont, 40, from his burning home back on Oct. 9. The commissioners honored the 13 heroes during a brief but poignant ceremony during their regular March meeting on Tuesday at the request of Worcester County Fire Marshal Jeff McMahon.

“I firmly believe had the individuals not taken the course of action, the outcome of this incident would have produced a fire fatality in Worcester County,” he said. “I know it is assumed these fire, EMS and police personnel risk their lives every time they accept an assignment, but I would like to take this opportunity to commend them and their agencies.”

Shortly before 11 p.m. on Oct. 9, the Berlin and Showell Fire companies were dispatched to a reported house fire on Flower Street in the area of Honeysuckle Lane on the east side of Berlin. First arriving units discovered the one-and-half story, split level residence with heavy smoke showing from three sides. Prior to the arrival of the first responders, Worcester Central advised an unknown individual was trapped inside the residence.

Neighbors, family and friends confirmed an individual, later identified as Belmont, was still inside the residence. After entering the building and extinguishing much of the active fire, which had begun to show from the kitchen window, fire crews turned their attention to finding and rescuing Belmont. Meanwhile, a second rescue crew entered the burning residence and quickly located the victim in a bedroom.

According to reports, fire crews were able to rescue Belmont from the smoke-filled residence and carried him to EMTs waiting in the front yard. The victim was quickly moved to an ambulance where EMTs were able to regain a pulse and respirations. The victim was transported first to Atlantic General Hospital and later flown to University of Maryland Shock Trauma in Baltimore.

Belmont was unconscious but still alive when he was transported to the burn center in Baltimore, according to a Berlin Fire Company report. He remained in the hospital in Baltimore for about two months before it was certain he would survive his injuries. Belmont was released from the hospital in late December and is still recuperating in the Baltimore area with family, although he was on hand on Tuesday for the commendation ceremonies.

Meanwhile, the Berlin and Showell Fire companies, with assistance from the Ocean City and Ocean Pines Fire departments, were able to quickly bring the blaze under control. It was determined the fire originated in the kitchen area of the residence and the cause of the fire has since been identified as unattended cooking.

Those commended by the commissioners this week included Berlin Fire Department Captain and Incident Commander Eric Budd, Berlin firefighters and EMTs Harry Trimble, David Lewis, Adam Tinnel, Austin Purnell, Bill Scott, Charles Townsend and Charles Ward, along with Berlin Firefighter and Chief Paramedic Derrick Simpson.

Also commended this week for their roles in the rescue were Ocean Pines Fire Department firefighter and EMT James Corron III, Berlin Police Lieutenant Jeffrey Dale “JD” Lawson and Worcester County Sheriff’s Deputy Anthony Rhode.