Brave men honored for heroic rescue efforts

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Fire Department recognized four men for their heroic efforts to try and rescue a woman from her burning south Phoenix apartment last month.

None of the men are trained professional firefighters, but before help could even arrive the morning of Oct. 22, they put their lives on the line to try and do whatever they could to save their neighbor.

Monday's ceremony was a bittersweet moment, surrounded by family and friends, as Capt. Tony Muir honored the brave men for a split-second decision that displayed the utmost integrity.

"We're very thankful in this case that these four gentlemen did a selfless act of trying to help an individual," Muir said.

That individual, 68-year-old Patricia Ferrell, was the only one not at the ceremony. With a heavy heart, her neighbors will forever remember the burning apartment that she never made it out of alive.

"She was a real nice lady," Roscoe Young II explained. "Kinda kept to herself, but always helping the kids ... always gave little kids in her apartment complex a buck or two to take her trash out."

Manuel Soto vividly recalled Ferrell's final moments of hope that fateful day.

"I could still see her body and her screaming for help still," Soto said. "I'll probably see that for the rest of my life."

The kind words shared Monday, including, in part, "Your selfless actions demonstrate courage and commitment to serving the community," triggered mixed emotions.

"It's a good feeling, but... I don't feel like I'm a hero," Anthony Fritz said.

Not a hero in his eyes, but rather, someone who was willing to risk his own life for someone else, without ever giving up.

"It's really sad knowing that she died," Fritz said. "We did what we could ... wish it was a better outcome; we all do."

When asked if he and the others would do it all over again, they were quick to say, "in a heartbeat," adding, they would hope someone else would do the same for them.