Medal of Honor Awarded to Peoria Firefighters

Fire and Rescue mask melted

by Assistant Chief Greg Walters

This fire gear was worn by Peoria Fire Engineer Chance Barlow during a rescue at a burning house on February 24, 2002. The second floor of the house was on fire, and two children were trapped in a bedroom. Engineer Barlow, along with Captain Dave Clarke, and Firefighter Joey Camp, crawled through thick smoke on the ground floor, stairway, and second floor, and found the two children. Engineer Barlow reached through flames toward a bunk bed and removed one child. Engineer Barlow then ran through flames to exit the bedroom and incurred second-degree burns. After removing one child, Engineer Barlow reentered the bedroom and removed the second child. Barlow, Clarke, and Camp then carried the children outside.

For their courage at this incident, Barlow, Clarke, and Camp were awarded medals from the State of Illinois at Springfield on May 9, 2003. Barlow received the Medal of Honor, and Clarke and Camp received the Medal of Valor at an award ceremony attended by hundreds of firefighters in Illinois.

This display of fire gear shows the damage an intense fire can cause to fire gear, which also argues why gear is important to keep firefighters safe. The air temperature in that bedroom was most likely around 1,000 degrees near the ceiling. Without this fire gear and it’s fire resistant property of Nomex, firefighters Barlow, Clarke, and Camp could not have survived their rescue operations.

Chance Barlow and dive team

Chance Barlow (in middle) with his dive team member for the Peoria Fire Department

Captain Chance Barlow has been with the Peoria Fire department since 1993 and among his many duties, he is also one of the Dive Team Coordinator’s for the Peoria Fire Department. Captain Barlow also has other duties; one to our country, where he has been deployed overseas three times. As part of his Air Force duties with the 182nd Airlift Wing, he was assigned to versus Special Operations groups. He has the rank of Senior Master Sergeant, and his job is Wing First Sergeant. Thus far, for his actions he has received many awards and medals to speak of, including three bronze stars for combat operations, two of which are with Valor.

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