When 12-year-old Lillian Fryman smelled smoke in her Greenfield home, she knew exactly what she and her two young brothers needed to do. So while their home was damaged to the point that the family will not be able to move back in for about six months, Lillian and her siblings made it out just fine because she had been taught how to respond.
“It’s because of my mom. She’s taught me a lot of safety things in case something like that were to happen,” said Lillian, a sixth-grader at Greenfield Middle School. “We had a meeting place set and we do little run throughs and things like that. Sometimes, just at any time, Mom will say, ‘What would you do if there was a fire in the house?’”
When the Jan. 17 broke out a little before 10 a.m. in the 900 block of Jefferson Street, Lillian and Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District Public Information Officer Branden Jackman said she grabbed the boys, ages 5 and 3, got them out of the house, called 911, then called her mother.
In recognition of Lillian’s quick response, Paint Creek presented her with a plaque at its board meeting this week. The plaque reads: “At the age of 12 years old, after discovering that your house was on fire, you utilized the life safety skills that you have been taught. You remained calm and safely evacuated your brothers from the house. You then calmly called 911 to report the fire.”
The plaque was presented by the Paint Creek Board of Trustees and the members of the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District.
On the morning of the fire, Lillian said the first thing that alerted her to a possible problem was the smoke smell.
“I thought maybe it was a candle, or a fuse, but then I remembered that we had blew the candle out,” Lillian said. “I walked into the living the room and the ottoman was on fire. I immediately grabbed my brothers, got them out side, called 911, then immediately called my mother.”
The family’s planned meeting place was by a tree outside the home, but instead Lillian ushered her brothers into a garage detached from the house because there was snow on the ground.
“They were mostly crying because the snow hurt their feet because we had no shoes or socks on and were still in our pajamas,” Lillian said. “I just got to where we could get as quick as we could because the snow would have froze our feet.”
She said her youngest brother told her to call “PAW Patrol” – his favorite TV show, an animated series about animals that have the abilities of firefighters and policemen.
As she stood in the garage, Lillian said, “I thought our home would be gone … a lot of nervousness went through my head. But mom (who was working just down the street – their father was working in Dayton) got there about the same time as the fire department and tried to comfort us and got us warm in the van.”
Lillian’s mother, Elizabeth Fryman, said the firefighters played her daughter’s 911 call when they presented her with the plaque.
“If felt very proud of her. She did exactly what she was always taught to do and exactly as she was supposed to do it,” Elizabeth said.
Elizabeth said a state fire investigator told her the fire started due to a phone charger that was plugged in behind the ottoman.
“Every year we go into the schools for Fire Education Week and it’s nice to see other side of the coin, where families have a meeting place, a good plan, know to call 911, and have practiced the plan,” Jackman said.
Lillian said she was glad she paid attention to those lessons.
“I don’t know what I would done if I didn’t know that,” she said. Then after a pause she added, “Always practice safety.”
She also said she likes her plaque.
“I was very amazed,” she said. “I knew I did the right thing, but I didn’t think I’d get that much attention from it.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.