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Every year United Fire gathers stories about skilled and prepared firefighters and their accomplishments that demonstrate the qualities and compassion of the Arizona Fire Service.

Unlike most people who tend to focus on just what is in front of them, firefighters have the desire, ability, and training to prepare for emergencies that help them notice and evaluate everything going on around them. This permits firefighters to safely respond instead of just instinctively react to dangerous situations, making them true Giants Among Us.

This year’s award recipient, Firefighter Tyler A. Menke, was assigned to Tucson Fire Department’s Engine 5 on July 28, 2010. There had just been a tragic accident. When his engine arrived on the scene, a LifeNet helicopter was engulfed in flames. Firefighter Menke could hear screams coming from the crash. Using his training, he was able to rapidly assess all aspects of the situation to gather the details and get the full picture. Then, without hesitation and without the protection of a hoseline, he disappeared into the smoke and ran into the inferno to try and save the screaming victims.

Within minutes he returned dragging Nurse Parker Summons, still alive, to an area where he could safely be treated by medics. 


Firefighter Menke then bravely returned to the sound of more screams and intense flames. This time he had the protection of a hoseline provided by his partner and helped extricate two more people, Pilot Alexander Kelly and Paramedic Brenda French.

When interviewed after the incident, Menke’s Captain offered:

It was the most heroic thing I have ever seen.”

Sadly, Brenda French died at the scene, but the other two patients, thanks to Firefighter Menke’s courageous efforts, were able to be transported to the hospital. They were kept alive long enough so that their families could say goodbye, which was deeply meaningful for all of them.

Firefighter Menke demonstrated how Giants in the fire service are able to focus on what needs to be done, and despite danger to themselves, are able to selflessly protect and save others.

During his acceptance speech, Tyler stated, “In my opinion, if you were to take the name of every firefighter in the State of Arizona and just randomly pick one, they would deserve this award just as much as myself or any one of our coworkers. So that being said, I can accept this award on behalf of all the firefighters in Arizona who do great work and great things every day, and I am proud to continue my career along side you as my peers.”



This sincere humility is but another of the many noble characteristics that define the unique breed of individual who have chosen to become firefighters.

Firefighter Menke is an outstanding example of the amazing men and women, both career and volunteer, in the Arizona Fire Service. He is one of the true Giants Among Us.





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