Danbury fire chief honored for saving man's life
Danbury's fire chief is being celebrated as a hero for saving a man's life.
Danbury Fire Chief Richard Thode has been recognized nationally for his heroism on May 11, 2022. He says he was home and heard about a trench collapse in Bethel.
"I'm off that day. I was on a vacation day," says Thode.
"Somebody called me and said, 'Hey, there's something going on like right around the corner from your house,' and I was there in less than a minute," says Thode.
The former Bridgeport fire chief arrived to learn a man was buried in a 15-foot trench that was being dug.
"Literally I uncovered a part, and this man's nose and mouth came poking out of the dirt and he took this ... .huge gasp of air and at that point I was like oh and that completely changed the scope of the operation," says Thode.
Thode says the victim made his own trench box to try and protect himself.
"The boards collapsed and crushed him in between the boards, and then all the dirt fell on top of that," says Thode.
Thode says he started digging. Danbury and Bethel fire arrived, and the man was pulled to safety three hours later.
"Once you see that this is truly going to be a rescue, you have to just keep going," says Thode.
Thode just came back from Columbus, Ohio, where he was awarded Firehouse Magazine's Michael O. McNamee Award for Valor for his act of courage and bravery in the face of danger.
"I have friends texting me from all over the country," says Thode.
Thode says he always wanted to be a firefighter. When he was 8 years old, he wrote a letter to his local firehouse in Port Washington on Long Island.
"They made the biggest mistake they could ever make. They said come back any time you want, and I went back to the firehouse the next day and went back the next day," says Thode.
Thode has been a part of this fraternity for 40 years with stops in Bridgeport and Ridgefield.
"People say why do you keep going. I'm like cause there's so much good stuff going on here, how could I walk away from it? It's fantastic," says Thode.
Thode says the victim in that trench collapse last year was at Yale New Haven Hospital and then discharged.