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Firefighter honored with valor award for saving woman trapped in burning building

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The following is a news release and photo from the city of Idaho Falls.

Captain Josh Jacobsen of the Idaho Falls Fire Department recently received the Valor Award for saving an elderly woman who was trapped in a burning structure last spring.

This award is distinguished as the highest award presented by the department and is awarded to only active members for acts both on and off-duty. This honor is awarded any time a member of IFFD distinguishes themselves in such an act of personal bravery and known risk to help another person (sworn or civilian) under hazardous conditions in which the person is placed in a life-threatening position to save the life of another.

In the early morning hours of April 6, 2021, IFFD responded to a house fire on Laurelwood Avenue. The emergency communications officer/dispatcher obtained very specific information from the victim who stated that she was on the floor in the front room near the fire and was trapped and unable to get out. The victim was terrified, telling the ECO that the fire was getting very close to her and begging to “please hurry.”

Knowing life was in immediate danger, Jacobsen entered the burning home with very low visibility due to the smoke. He navigated past the flames in the living room to reach the victim. He placed himself between the woman and the flames, took her into his arms, and quickly brought her outside to the safety of the ambulance. She was transported to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in stable condition.

Immediately after placing the woman in the ambulance, Jacobsen quickly joined other personnel to help fight and extinguish the fire, successfully doing so within 10 minutes of arriving on scene.

“Without the quick thinking and decisive actions taken on this morning, there is no doubt the outcome of this incident would’ve been much worse,” stated Captain Mark Pitcher who was the incident commander that day. “Captain Jacobsen truly demonstrated our mission of providing life-saving services. He quickly placed the safety and well-being of the woman above his own; it is for his action and skill that I firmly believe he deserves this recognition,” added Pitcher.

Fire Chief Duane Nelson states, “Captain Jacobsen orchestrated his duties with skill and precision. We are very proud of his leadership, selflessness, and dedication.”

Jacobsen was recognized during a department ceremony last week, along with Firefighter/Paramedic Justin King who received the American Legion Firefighter of the Year, and Captain Steve Farnsworth who received his 20-year service pin from the City of Idaho Falls.

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