James Giles receives an award Feb. 14 from Terrace mayor Carol Leclerc for his actions Oct. 18, 2016.

Terrace hero receives Carnegie Medal

James Giles only Canadian amoung 20 recognized for ‘extraordinary heroism’

Terrace’s James Giles, who last year rescued a family of three from a burning house, has been awarded the Carnegie Medal for extraordinary heroism.

Giles is the only Canadian among 20 men and women in the latest honouree role issued by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission Dec. 19.

Last year, on the night of Oct. 18 Giles, now 41, had just returned home with his son from a late hockey game when a burst of light lit up his bedroom. Through his window he saw 20-foot flames climbing from the roof of his neighbour’s house across the street.

As Giles’s wife called 911, he rushed to the scene but failed to rouse the family after several minutes of shouting and banging on the door. After throwing a rock through the bedroom window, the mother appeared at the front entrance, confused and unaware of the fire. Giles believes she was already suffering from smoke inhalation as it billowed out the open door. He ushered her outside then covered his mouth with his shirt, running inside to locate the boy, who was found about eight feet from the door. He carried him outside and returned for the girl, whom he found frozen in fear on the stairs, then carried her to safety. At one point the mother, unaware her son had been rescued, returned to the house. Giles entered the building a third time to escort the mother back to her children on the street.

All were treated at the scene for mild smoke inhalation.

Before entering the house, which he knew to be the home of two children, Giles said he remembers thinking only of wind direction, and where his best chance existed to assist them.

“What drove me was the thought of my kids. What extreme was I willing to go to if those were my kids inside. Well, I’d die for them. I’m sure that was the case with that family too, so I had to make sure they would live. I still haven’t really processed it yet, but that’s all it was about.”

The commission’s website describes the Carnegie Medal as an honour given to men and women throughout the United States and Canada for risking their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others. The 20 individuals announced Dec. 19 are among 77 who received the award in 2017. Seven of the individuals in announcement died in the act of saving the lives of others.

Related, BC Heroes: Axe-wielding Keremeos hero describes toddler’s rescue

Since the night of Oct. 18 Giles has formally joined the Terrace Volunteer Fire Department. Once he completes his basic 1001 training he plans to apply everywhere he can to pursue firefighting as a career.

“My dream job was always to be a firefighter,” he said. “But I could never afford to go to school for training, with kids and everything.” But earlier this year Giles was laid off from work as a safety coordinator, at which point he felt the timing was right, and signed up for the volunteer service in Terrace.

“I’m so happy. The guys are great and it’s such a fun, rewarding job. Best decision I ever made.”

Each of the Carnegie Medal recipients will receive an undisclosed financial grant, according to the Commission’s website. Since the fund was established 113 years ago by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, close to $40 million has been given out in the form of grants, scholarships, death benefits and continuing assistance.

Related, BC Heroes: Cache Creek fire chief remembered as ‘champion, an unsung hero’

“It’s a little overwhelming,” Giles said. “I don’t like to be in the limelight. I’m sure there are many other Canadian’s who deserve the same kind of recognition, especially law enforcement guys, our military and fire service guys. But it’s an honour, for sure. I’m shocked.”

The honour follows a plaque presentation from the City of Terrace earlier this year. Mayor Carol Leclerc presented Giles with a plaque “in recognition of your heroism and courageous action,” she said at the time.

-with files from Margaret Speirs



newsroom@terracestandard.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

B.C. Book Prize’s northwest tour stops in Terrace

The two authors spoke to students at Caledonia Secondary School and Thornhill Elementary on Thursday

Mismanaged salmon farms unacceptable: Cullen

Commissioner suggests Ottawa favouring aquaculture over wild salmon management

B.C. hires 20 more conservation officers

The province announces 12 new locations for conservation officer services this year

Fire department reminds public to not burn yard waste

Terrace department has responded to eight burn complaints during the first three months of 2018

Approximately 133 calls for service April 16 to 19

The Terrace RCMP responded to approximately 133 calls for service from Monday… Continue reading

Terrace fire department boosts its abilities with new training regimen

Firefighters get a taste of emergency evac on demolition property

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

NAFTA talks hold Foreign Affairs Minister in Washington, substitute heads to NATO summit

NAFTA talks keeping Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, sends substitute to NATO summit

Britain gives long-lost Franklin expedition ships to Canada, Inuit

Deeds to HMS Erebus and HMS Terror signed over to Canada and Inuit Heritage Trust

Grief over deadly Toronto van attack sinks in

Three days after rampage, people still gathering at memorial to lay flowers and honour victims

Liberals urged to tax e-commerce services like Netflix

Trudeau has been adamant that his government wouldn’t increase taxes on online subscriptions

Why some B.C. daycares didn’t opt in to subsidy program

Deadline passes for program aimed at laying foundation for universal child care

WATCH: Moms Stop The Harm respond to opioid crisis

Someone asked her if she does the work for her son. McBain said: “No, actually. I do it for your son.”

Been a long day? Here’s cute puppies in training

Group is training next batch of assistance dogs at Vancouver International Airport

Most Read