Peoria Fire Department Engineer Stephen Gunn was honored by President Donald Trump at a White House ceremony, for rescuing a man from a burning house without regard for his own safety.
On April 7, 2016, the Phoenix Fire Department received a call to respond to a fire at a large single-story home in which several people were trapped. It was later determined that this was a home invasion and arson fire that had quickly spread through the house and caused several propane tanks on the back patio to explode. Engine 193 from neighboring Peoria was the first fire unit to arrive on the scene. Through a blown-out picture window, Engineer Stephen Gunn observed an unconscious victim several feet inside a room full of smoke and roiling flames.
Without hesitation, Engineer Gunn stepped into the flames to rescue the victim. For 40 seconds he worked inside the blaze, his helmet melting, his protective gear blackening and his skin burning. Finally, just before the room flashed with flames, he was able to pass the victim to the waiting hands of his captain. The victim was not breathing and the firefighters immediately initiated lifesaving measures.
Engineer Gunn’s actions were caught on a sheriff’s deputy’s body camera, without which the extent of the courage shown by Engineer Gunn may never have been fully understood. Engineer Gunn was treated for his burns at the Arizona Burn Center and was back on his next shift. The victim succumbed to his injuries a few days later.
The following recipients were also honored for exhibiting “great courage and unwavering dedication to serving our country.”
Deputy Shaun Wallen, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department (California) — 11 years of service
Corporal Rafael Ixco, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department (California) — 20 years of service
Detective Bruce Southworth, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department (California) — seven years of service
District Attorney Investigator Chad Johnson, San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office (California) — 17 years of service
Officer Nicholas Koahou, Redlands Police Department (California) — 10 years of service
Detective Brian Olvera, San Bernardino Police Department (California) — 13 years of service
Chief Douglas Schroeder, Hesston Police Department (Kansas) — 21 years of service
Emergency Medical Technician Sean Ochsenbein, Putnam County Rescue Squad (Tennessee) — 10 years of service
Lieutenant William Buchanan, Avery County Sheriff’s Office (North Carolina) — 21 years of service
Firefighter/Harbor Patrol Officer David Poirier Jr., Redondo Beach Fire Department (California) – 25 years of service
Officer Andrew Hopfensperger Jr., Antigo Police Department (Wisconsin) — nine years of service