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Two officers honored for their heroism in Middleport fire

Two Niagara County law enforcement officers – Middleport Police Chief John J. Swick and Niagara County Sheriff Deputy Shannan Zimmerman – received the Hon. Wesley Arnold Lawman of the Year Award for their actions in rescuing six people from an apartment fire last year.

Swick and Zimmerman were honored for going above and beyond the call of duty at the Judges and Police Executives Conference of Niagara County’s Annual Lawman Dinner earlier this month.

At 9:35 a.m. on Jan. 8, 2014 several 911 calls were placed about an apartment building on fire at 143 Telegraph in the Village of Middleport.

Both Swick and Zimmerman rushed to the scene with an added sense of urgency after learning that the people – four of them children – were trapped in the building.

At first the officers attempted to enter the front door of the apartment, but were quickly turned back by heavy smoke.

They then ran to the rear of the building where they spotted an upstairs bedroom window that had been opened.

They began yelling up to the resident, and she told them she was in the bedroom with her sister and four children with no way to get out.

Swick was able to instruct the mother to start handing the children out the window. They were able to safely drop the children down into Swick’s arms where he passed each child to Zimmerman as he waited. An infant, a 2–year–old, a 4–year-old and a 7–year-old were rescued.

The mother, who was identified as Jessi M. Evans of that address and her sister, Shayla Evans of Barker, were then able climb out onto the gabled roof and make their way over to a first-story roof where they waited until Swick and Zimmerman located a ladder in a nearby yard and then helped the two women down.

All six escaped without serious injury, only needing treatment for minor smoke inhalation. The apartment was a total loss.

Niagara County Undersheriff Michael J. Filicetti, who is president of the Judges and Police Executive Conference of Niagara County, said it was important to take the time to honor the officers who risk themselves in the service of others.

“These two officers should be very proud of their actions on that day and the fact that they saved lives,” Filicetti said in announcing the awards.

During the awards dinner the group also swore in a new board of directors for 2015-2016.