The local firefighters who were involved in the rescue attempt during last month’s fatal fire in Monroe were recognized by the Monroe City Council meeting at last week’s City Council Meeting. All the firefighters who responded from both the City of Monroe Fire Department as well as Walton County Fire Rescue were recognized for their commitment to the community. The four who went into the burning building in an attempt to rescue the occupants of the home on Shamrock Drive on Feb. 12 were individually given Letters of Commendation.
The fire on Shamrock Drive took the lives of 31-year-old Andria Godard and her 10-year-old daughter, Jasmine, as well as 33-year-old Quentin Moses, a former University of Georgia and Miami Dolphin football player. When the four firefighters entered the home, it was already too late for Godard and her daughter, but attempts were made to get Moses out. He was pronounced dead later at the hospital.
Before presenting the Letters, Assistant Fire Chief Bill Owens noted the importance of honoring such actions..
“One of the worst thing that can happen to a firefighter that I know of is for them to stop caring – to lose their passion, lose their interest and burn out,” Owens said. “It is very important for us to pause, and if nothing else, just say ‘thank you.'”
Owens went on to thank each of the firefighters by name who were involved in the incident that day before giving out the four Letters of Commendation to those who had gone into the burning house. Those were presented to Monroe firefighters Sgt. Matthew Johnston and Charles R. Johnson and Walton County Fire Rescue Firefighter/driver engineer Latimer Barnes and Capt. Patrick Slocum. Capt. Jeff Allen with WCFR, who was one of the firefighters responding that day, has shared the remains of the suit worn by Slocum on social media to show the extent of the fire the four braved that day in an attempt to save the life of Moses. Slocum said he had hung back to spray water on the other firefighters as they tried to get Moses out.
“We were coming out and I couldn’t make it through the doorway so I backed off because all three of us couldn’t make it through,” Slocum said. “When I did, fire was coming over us and I went to where the hose line was in the living room near the hallway. I grabbed it and starting spraying water because there was a lot of fire coming back on us. I actually thought the fire was on Matt.”
Allen said that the fire actually got Slocum’s suit, destroying it.
“We’ve had to order a new set. His was actually on fire when they came outside with the victim. He had a blister on his neck from where his air hose running from his SCBA was so hot that it burned him through his hood when he turned his head,” Allen said at the time. “Two of ours, two from Monroe. They had to fight their way through the fire to get in and back out with (Moses).”
The Letters of Commendation noted that the four firefighters had conducted search and rescue operations during a structure fire before fire suppression efforts had begun.
“I am honored to work with the finest firefighters around,” Owens said. “I appreciate your hard work, training and dedication to serving others. Thank you.”
Monroe Public Safety Director Keith Glass asked that family members also stand to be recognized for their service to the community.
“We want to say thank you to you as well. You’ve got a tough job too,” Glass said. “In the first responder’s world, you never know when the day is going to be the day.”
Monroe Mayor Greg Thompson added his thanks to the firefighters, noting that so many kids want to grow up to be firefighters without realizing just how tough a job it really is.
“You guys do a wonderful job. We’re proud to have you,” Thompson said.