‘He risked his life for me’: Firefighter's bravery honoured
"WITHOUT him I wouldn't be here today," says building fire survivor Irene Vidler.
Tomorrow marks two years since Irene and many others were rescued from a seven-storey apartment building fire at Kings Beach.
The man responsible for finding her and one other lying unconscious in a haze of thick black smoke has been awarded a Commendation for Brave Conduct.
In an extraordinary act of bravery, acting station officer Craig Hogarth and his Queensland Fire and Emergency Services colleagues responded to a direct brigade alarm at an apartment building on August 20, 2017.
"Our initial actions were to stop the spread of the fire because people were stuck in the units above," Mr Hogarth said.
Mr Hogarth entered the foyer to get to the building's fire indicator panel.
But to get there he was forced to crawl close to the wall to avoid the flames leaping across a three-metre concrete walkway.
On reaching the fire door of the common area, he saw it had been propped open and thick black smoke that "no amount of light could fix" engulfed the room.
Down on his knees, Mr Hogarth felt around the floor, only to feel the fingertips of Ms Vidler lying unconscious.
"It was horrific going into that smoke and not knowing where you're going," Mr Hogarth said.
"But as soon as I felt her hand, I knew I had a big job ahead of me."
Without breathing apparatus, Mr Hogarth entered the room and dragged Ms Vidler outside. With the help of three police officers and another firefighter, he entered two more times and rescued one more.
"He absolutely deserves this (award)," Ms Vidler said.
"Through Craig opening that door and risking his life, I'm here today."