MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Firefighters are known for saving lives when they’re on the job, but a lot of times their instincts and skills kick in even when they aren’t in uniform.
The City of Miami Fire Rescue Department hosted an award ceremony on Tuesday morning to honor their firefighters, including those who made a difference even while off the clock.
It was a special recognition for dozens of firefighters, not running into burning homes and buildings or acting as medics who save lives day after day, you could say these were extra special.
“My instinct was just to help render aid with the knowledge and skills that I have from this department,” said Jesus Herrera.
Herrera received a Bronze Star for what he did out of uniform. The first time, in Siesta Key, when bad weather hit.
“Witness an actual victim with his wife that got struck by lightning,” he said.
With everything he had, he said he tried to save the man who sadly didn’t survive, but he would take another turn at hero soon after.
“God put me there for a reason,” said Herrera.
This time he was at a Flanigan’s Restaurant in Hollywood when he smelled something he knew very well, smoke. Before anyone realized the restaurant was on fire, he alerted the staff and later helped evacuate 40 people.
“Once you’re a fireman and you’re in that brotherhood life, you’re a fireman whether you’re at work or you’re off work,” said Herrera.
For firefighter Javier Corrales, just to be there is special.
“I’m just grateful,” Corrales said.
Corrales was honored by his department as Firefighter of the Month and given a Purple Heart.
In May of last year, Corrales was on the I-95 Expressway trying to help in what turned out to be a deadly accident that killed a teenager, when he became a victim. Corrales, a fellow firefighter and their truck were slammed into by another car.
“Multiple injuries, skull fracture, orbital fracture, brain bleed, fractured my spine. Physically and mentally it’s pretty challenging,” he said.
Tuesday was about recognition and recovery, to be on the other side was emotional.
“Proud,” said a teary-eyed Corrales.“Grateful and happy that I’m able to be here with my family like all members of the fire department that have supported me and my family as well.”
In addition to the dozens of firefighters honored, there were also civilians including a doctor, radiologist Ken Weiss, who jumped into water to save a drowning victim before firefighters arrived.