Deployed firefighter to receive Purple Heart

SPOKANE, Wash. - The firefighter injured in the Joel Building Fire last summer was awarded a purple heart during a ceremony at the Spokane Fire Department Training Center Saturday evening. according to the Spokane Fire Department.  Authorities say it's the first Purple Heart awarded in the 125 year history of the department.

Shawn Poole fell through the floor of the burning Joel Building while trying to help another fire fighter on July 24.

"If you can imagine actually descending into hell that's what they did," said Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer.

Poole fell into the basement, hurting his knee and collapsing a lung. Poole was nominated anonymously on October 16, 2008 and was recently approved for the award by a committee of his peers, union representatives and administrators within the department.

Purple Hearts are reserved for members of the fire department who are injured in the line of duty and require immediate treatment by a physician and/or hospital, according to the fire department's awards and recognition policy passed in 2003.

Poole was also awarded the medal of valor for rescuing another firefighter at the fire.

Poole is in the Army reserves and is currently serving overseas. His wife, Teresa and family accepted the award on his behalf. 

Nomination Letter (submitted anonymously on October 16, 2008)

On July 24, 2008, while operating as the first due company at a three alarm commercial fire in the Joel Building FF Darrin Neiwert fell through a fire weakened floor as he advanced an attack lead into the structure.

FF Neiwert was supported only by his SCBA pack as it caught on a structural member thus preventing him from falling completely into the basement where the main body of the fire was located.

FF Poole acting as the backup to the nozzle man was able to locate and remove FF Neiwert from the hole in the floor without assistance.

FF Poole's actions demonstrate the highest ideals of the fire service in preserving life and also depict the willingness to place the life of a fellow firefighter above one's self.

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