RECEIVING CITATIONS OF VALOR on Monday were (front, left) Shiawassee County dispatcher Kelsey Curtis, Owosso Twp. firefighter Whitney Ryan and Owosso Twp. Fire Dept. Lt. Mike Gute. In the back (from left) are Owosso firefighter John McKay and Owosso Fire Dept. Lt. Matt Nowiski.

  The group is standing on the central stairs just outside of council chambers on Monday, March 21.

(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)


    Citations of Valor were presented to several local emergency service members during the Owosso City Council meeting on Monday, March 21 at city hall in recognition of their heroic acts connected to a recent house fire in Owosso.

   Those receiving the recognition included Owosso Fire Dept. Lt. Matt Nowiski, Owosso firefighter John McKay, Owosso Twp. Fire Dept. Lt. Mike Gute, Owosso Twp. firefighter Whitney Ryan and Shiawassee County dispatcher Kelsey Curtis.

   The fire occurred on Friday, Feb. 18 when central dispatch received a 911 call of a house fire in the 1400 block of S. Chipman Street. The Owosso Fire Dept. (OFD), along with Owosso Township Fire Dept. (OTFD) and the Corunna-Caledonia Fire Dept. were dispatched to the fire.

    Owosso police and fire personnel arrived at the fire within minutes as Shiawassee County dispatcher Kelsey Curtis remained on the phone with a caller who was trapped in a second floor bedroom. Emergency fire personnel worked to suppress the fire and remove the caller from the house, though access to the victim was extremely risky as the structure was engulfed in flame, which was spreading to the second floor.

   The caller became unconscious but, working together, firefighters were able to lift him out through the window to other firefighters who were on ladders – and he was successfully removed from the structure. The elapsed time reported by OFD between the initial call to the individual being removed from the home was just over 23 minutes. During the rescue period, Curtis remained on the phone with the victim, relaying critical information to the firefighters.

  The individual was taken to Memorial Hospital for initial treatment, but then to Hurley Hospital where he remained for four days before he was released. The house was not salvageable.

   In acknowledging the emergency service heroes and also the assisting fire departments during the Monday meeting, Owosso Police Chief Kevin Lenkart highlighted some of the extraordinary measures the fire personnel took in rescuing the man from the burning structure. Lenkart explained how rare it is for someone to be rescued in a situation such as the S. Chipman Street house fire – even though firefighters regularly train for similar emergency events. Lenkart shared that lifting an unconscious person during a fire is daunting, but then rescuing him, carrying him down a ladder – it is all extremely difficult and extremely rare. Dispatcher Curtis and the four firefighters: Nowiski, McKay, Gute and Ryan, demonstrated a fully coordinated and heroic effort, with the firefighters risking their lives to rescue the victim.

   Some of the emergency service personnel honored expressed their gratitude to St. Paul Catholic Church for allowing them to use the convent last summer for training, believing the recent training was very helpful in the S. Chipman Street house rescue.

   City council members, city staff and those in attendance offered much applause to the citation recipients.

Exemplary Service Awards Presented to Emergency Service Heroes was last modified: March 29th, 2022 by Karen Elford