Capt. Brian Stairs and Driver/Engineer Steve Lozano of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue recently demonstrated the type of quick action and commitment lauded by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, which on Jan. 19 recognized the accomplishments, dedication, and sacrifices of local first responders.
Stairs was off-duty, driving home with his wife from a pet store in December, when he came across a burning car pulled to the side of the pavement near Highway 54 and the Veterans Expressway in Pasco County. Despite the increasing smoke and heat, he reached into the vehicle’s rear seat, released three siblings — ages 5, 2, and 6 months — from their car seats, and made sure they were carried a safe distance away from the burning car. Moments later, Lozano, also off-duty, stopped to help Stairs.
Neither the children nor the car’s two adult occupants — the children’s grandmother and her daughter, who is the mother of two of the children — were badly injured. Debra Tessier, the grandmother and the car’s driver, called Stairs her angel.
The selfless acts of Stairs and Lozano are representative of brave actions taken by first responders who use their training and skills while putting the safety of others above their own to save lives.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott proclaimed Jan. 9 through 13 to be Florida First Responder Appreciation Week, and Hillsborough County officials used the opportunity to honor local law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians.
Representatives of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and other agencies that operate in the region were on hand Jan. 19 for the reading of a Board of County Commissioners’ proclamation on their behalf at County Center.