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Firefighters Honored for Lorton Rescue

Technician Clay Slaymaker, Technician Edwin Flores, Firefighter Brendan Downing and Lt. Aron Corwin were honored March 21 for their heroism during a swift water rescue in Lorton last September.

Technician Clay Slaymaker, Technician Edwin Flores, Firefighter Brendan Downing and Lt. Aron Corwin were honored March 21 for their heroism during a swift water rescue in Lorton last September. Photo by Angela Ballard/Fairfax County Fire and Rescue

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Fairfax County Fire Chief Ronald Mastin, right, presents Lt. Aron Corwin with a Bronze Medal of Valor March 21 for his efforts saving the life of five people during a swift water rescue last September in the Lorton area.

— The water was swiftly overtaking a Lorton intersection as deadly flash flooding devastated the region on Sept. 8, 2011. By the time first responders from Fire Station 24 arrived on the scene, multiple vehicles had been swept into the intersection by the force of the fast moving floodwaters.

As they quickly surveyed the scene, Lt. Aron Corwin and Firefighter Brendan Downing located several stranded victims. Some were on the roofs of cars, another on a six-foot high brick wall and some still inside their vehicles.

Two of the stranded vehicles contained five people, including two special needs children. Using a fully extended 95-foot aerial tower, the Station 24 crew climbed into the waist-deep water, rescuing all five victims.

At the same time, two additional people had entered the water and been propelled up against a brick wall. Rescuers quickly secured a ground ladder from a stranded car to the brick wall and created a bridge, allowing the victims to be assisted back across the ladder and aerial device to safety.

For their acts of heroism in Lorton that day, Corwin and Downing were honored March 21 with Bronze Medals of Valor at the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce Valor Awards. Also honored for his rescue efforts was Technician Clay Slaymaker, who was presented with a Lifesaving Award.

At the event held at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner, the Chamber recognized 108 of the county's first responders at the 34th Annual Valor Awards. Members of the Fairfax County Police Department, Sheriff's Office, Fire and Rescue Department, as well as from the Towns of Herndon and Vienna, were given awards.

Thirty-five responders were given Bronze or Silver Medals of Valor and their children will receive post-secondary education scholarships from the Valor Scholarship Fund, a 501(c)3 foundation. To date, more than $250,000 in scholarships has been awarded.

The flash flooding of Sept. 8, a result of 6 to 10 inches of rain that deluged the area, brought numerous calls for water-related rescues and 18 Fairfax County Fire and Rescue personnel were honored for their efforts that day. The firefighters saved dozens of lives by rescuing people who were trapped by rising water, in danger of washing downstream or were otherwise trapped by the severe weather conditions.

The Chamber also awarded 48 lifesaving awards and 25 certificates of valor during the ceremony.

"We have heard some remarkable accounts of heroism today," said Doug Brammer, chair of the Valor Scholarship Fund. "Having done this for a number of years, it just reinforces that when things are at their worst, our first responders are at their best."