Glendale engine 24 crew

The Glendale engine 24 crew, right receives a unit citation during the Fire Department Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, October 2, 2013 along with Jeff St. Pierre, third from left and Dr. Shaun Torbati, fourth from left, receiving Fire Chief's Commendations for saving Amber Waller, second from left. (Roger Wilson / Staff Photographer / October 2, 2013)

Off-duty firefighter Brian Williams was at home when he heard a loud explosion.

He noticed fire coming from his neighbors' home garage, so he asked his father to call for help and then escorted his elderly neighbors to safety.

His neighbors' pets were still inside their home, so Williams entered the home to make sure the animals were safe.

But Williams wasn't done. He grabbed a spare firehose, attached it to a hydrant, and battled the blaze.

PHOTOS: 2013 Fire Awards Luncheon

As he was fighting the flames, propane tanks inside the garage erupted. He took cover between the home and parked cars while he continued to battle the fire until fire crews arrived.

His swift actions helped prevent his neighbors' house from being destroyed.

Williams' response and other random acts of bravery were honored Wednesday during the Glendale Fire Department's annual awards luncheon, which was hosted by the Glendale Sunrise Rotary.

Williams' earned the Fire Chief's Commendation for his efforts to protect life and property.

“That's what we want you to do,” Fire Chief Harold Scoggins told the audience at the luncheon.

The fire department also recognized several citizens for their community service and their ability to step into risky situations and provide aid to those in need.

“The Glendale Fire Department appreciates the support that we get from the community,” Scoggins said.

Capt. Brian Richey was one of three staffers who earned Distinguished Service awards for their dedication and contributions to the fire department.

For nearly 15 years, Richey has risen through the ranks of the department. He started as a firefighter, then advanced to the rank of engineer, and currently serves as shift training captain and member of the Hazardous Materials Response team.

Richey spent at least nine of those 15 years conducting background checks on new firefighters — a task which he said is equally vital because firefighters often enter homes to get to those in need.

“We are in a position of trust,” he said, adding that the fire department wants the community to trust in the emergency personnel it hires to serve residents.

Richey, along with Engineer Dan Encinas, Firefighter/Paramedic Chris Mays and Firefighter/Paramedic Jose Escobedo, also received a Unit Citation honor for providing medical treatment to an athlete who collapsed on a soccer field at the Glendale Sports Complex.

Physician Shaun Torbati and bystanders Alex Sale and Jeff St. Pierre were also honored at the luncheon for helping the athlete and administering CPR.

The athlete survived after doctors implanted a pacemaker-like device inside her chest.

Scoggins added that because of the quick actions of the firefighters and bystanders, “this young lady is here with us today.”

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Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.

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