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Off-duty Rockville volunteer firefighter saves man from burning car

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  • Off-duty Rockville volunteer firefighter saves man from burning car

    A member of my department. Deserving of all the credit he gets!


    James Cruzan does not think of himself as a hero, but he is being lauded as one after rescuing a man trapped inside a burning vehicle Friday.

    Shortly after 5 a.m. Friday, a man lost control of his car after colliding with another vehicle. The man's car slid down an embankment near the intersection of Crabbs Branch Way and Shady Grove Road in Derwood, said Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesman Assistant Chief Scott Graham.

    The driver, who Graham could not identify by name or age, was hurt and could not get out of his car.

    Cruzan, 39, a volunteer firefighter with the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department, saw smoke as he drove along Shady Grove Road near its intersection with Route 355. After getting a better view of the scene, he sprang into action.

    "Jimmy and a [tractor-trailer truck driver] arrived on the scene and saw the car in the embankment on fire," Graham said Monday. "The civilian had a chemical fire extinguisher with him and they were able to remove the driver from the car."

    Cruzan used the extinguisher to push back the flames so that truck driver and another man could pull the driver from the car. Cruzan did not have any rescue or protective gear.

    Cruzan does not know the names of either man who helped him, he said.

    "The fire was already working its way into the dashboard and we just kept trying to pull him out," said Cruzan, of Germantown. "Just as we pulled him out and carried him away, rescuers arrived."

    The driver received non-life-threatening traumatic injuries, while the driver of the other vehicle received minor injuries, Graham said. Both were taken to a hospital. Graham could not elaborate on the victim's injuries and could not identify the second driver.

    Word of Cruzan and the civilians' heroics spread quickly among firefighters with both the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department and Montgomery County Fire and Rescue.

    "What he did was just outstanding," said Eric Bernard, president of the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department. "He exemplifies what a volunteer firefighter is. There's no such thing as off-duty or on-duty."

    Before Cruzan and the other men who helped can be officially commended for their actions, fire officials need to review and document the circumstances of the collision, Bernard said. Fire officials are trying to contact the driver and other two men who helped him, Bernard and Graham said.

    Bernard, who described Cruzan as hardworking and dedicated, yet modest and quiet, said it is not like him to make a big deal out of something like this.

    "I don't feel any different," Cruzan said Monday night. "I feel like I was at the right place at the right time."

    If you witnessed the collision or assisted in the rescue, call either the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department at 301-424-0310, or Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services at 240-777-2400.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  • #2
    Grats to him!

    I keep a window punch, knife, and fire extinguisher in my vehicles for such an occasion. Luckily never had to use them.


    • #3
      Nice job!

      I had a fire extinguisher in my truck just in case. Until the dogs figured out how to pull the pin and step on the lever..
      So you call this your free country
      Tell me why it costs so much to live


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