A total of 11 Cleveland Firefighters and three citizens were honored for their bravery and quick-thinking during a ceremony at City Hall on Friday.
Firefighters Vito Giammarco and Jose Aviles received the Medal of Valor for their handling of a house fire, the day before New Year’s Eve.
On December 30, 2016, they were called out to the home on the east side of Cleveland.
“Attempted to get in the front door, but it had a security door,” said Vito Giammarco, Cleveland Firefighter, “Instead, we took a front window out, and I crawled in with Firefighter Aviles.”
With flames engulfing the home and a 90-year-old woman's life in danger, Giammarco told News 5 that he and Aviles knew they did not have much time, so they made a quick plan of action and took a big risk.
“When we went in there was no hose light set up, there was no nothing to protect us, so if we got stuck in there, we would've been in trouble,” said Giammarco.
He said he didn’t realize he saved his first fire victim, until after the fact.
His family, including his two young boys, were proudly watching from the stands.
“My mom is here too, my dad, unfortunately, he's in hospice right now and he's not doing too good, but he congratulated me and he was so proud of me,” said Giammarco.
His wife said she was very worried about her husband’s well-being at the time, but she supports his work.
“My dad was a firefighter,” said Traci Giammarco, “I married a firefighter, it's truly an honor. They go in and do something that a majority of us never want to do. Every day, it’s a job that they really love.”