A fire officer who was seriously injured as he rescued people from a deadly fire at a Trou Macaque, Laventille, apartment building last December, was honoured for his gallantry at this year’s Independence Day awards. Fire sub-officer Tyron Best, who was awarded the Hummingbird Medal (Bronze), suffered serious injuries and endured a three-month recuperation as he attempted to rescue people who jumped from the burning building. However, he said he loves his job and would do it all over again if he had to, except he would do it better.
Best, who is based at Fire Services Headquarters on Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain, was one of the fire officers that responded to the fire which broke out at around 1 am on December 20 at the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) housing scheme. The fire claimed four lives, including a ten-month-old-baby and a two-year-old child, while seven other residents were injured when they jumped from the top floor of the five-storey apartment building. Speaking from his home at St Barb’s Junction, Laventille, yesterday, Best said: “I feel good about the award. I always work to the best of my ability and always motivate my crew. I say to them that when we put on our blue suits we are super heroes.” Recalling the blaze, Best, who has more than 21 years of service as a fire officer, said: “It was a horrifying and chaotic situation.
I live in Laventille and people were calling my name. I knew I had to risk my life because they expected me to help them.” Best said he was climbing up the ladder when a little boy, later identified as Josaya Charles, 8, jumped through a window. At the same time, the boy’s mother, Lisa Charles, 46, also jumped. “Everything happened in about in about 15 seconds,” Best said. He said he grabbed Charles to prevent her from crushing the boy and they all fell to the ground. They fell on Best and he lost consciousness. Josaya survived but Lisa suffered fatal injuries in the fall. “It was hurting my mind that people were calling on me. “I wasn’t thinking about myself and being endangered,” said Best, who added that it was natural for fire officers to risk their lives and serve people, so they did not look for recognition.