'It's just muscle memory': Two firefighters rescued woman from Fawn Twp. house fire

Harper Ho
York Dispatch

Two York County volunteer firefighters are being lauded after they rescued a woman in February from a house fire in Fawn Township.

Citizens Volunteer Fire Co. member Paul Scott and Airville Volunteer Fire Co. member Ryan Shaull were commended recently by their departments for taking action and potentially saving a woman's life. 

"Ryan and Paul, with no gear, no nothing, they went right inside the house,"  said Citizens Volunteer Fire Co. Fire Chief Jimmy Williams. "They were able to get her out super quick."

Volunteer firefighters Paul Scott, left, of Citizens Volunteer Fire Company in Fawn Grove, and Ryan Shaull, of Airville Volunteer Fire Company, are photographed at the Fawn Grove station, Friday, March 12, 2021. The duo rescued Joan Grimm, of Jacksonville, N.C., when a fire started in her daughter's Fawn Township home on Feb. 21. Grimm originally left the home and called 911, but returned to save her daughter's American pit bull, Kenzie, that was still inside. Shaull and Scott entered the home and found that Grimm had become overwhelmed by the smoke. Grimm was saved and so was the dog. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Joan Grimm, of Jacksonville, North Carolina, was housesitting and dogsitting alone Feb. 21 at her daughter's home in the 500 block of Mount Olivet Church Road in Fawn Township.

She and pit bull Kenzie were sleeping in a bedroom on the lower level of the recently remodeled home when the smoke detector woke her up, said her husband, Karl Grimm. 

Grimm, 59, realized the house was on fire and called 911. Williams said the call came in about 10:50 p.m.

Grimm's family members said she could have perished that night if the two firefighters hadn't been there.

"We believe that the outcome would have been different," said Karl Grimm, who spoke for his wife because she was still recovering from smoke inhalation. "She's very thankful." 

Shaull was on his way to work when he saw the fire and drove to the scene. Scott, who lives several doors down from the residence and was watching TV at home, also went to the house. 

Both firefighters said they believed the 911 caller was still inside the house since an initial search of the premises showed no signs of anyone and the front door was locked.

Scott and Shaull said they entered the dwelling through an open walkout basement and found Grimm slumped on the floor on the main level of the house.

Two York County firefighters saved a woman from this house fire in Fawn Twp.

Grimm recalled that she went searching for Kenzie — who had run to a "safe spot" in another bedroom — but became so disoriented and consumed by the smoke that she walked into a wall and fell down, her family said.

"When we found her, she was rough looking. Her face was black," Scott said, adding she appeared semi-conscious at best. 

Scott said smoke was so heavy on the main floor that it was difficult to see anything clearly.

"I just happened to reach out, and when I reached out, I touched her shoulder," Scott said. "But that was as far as we could go. If she wouldn't have been there. We weren't going any farther than that."

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Scott and Shaull said it was then a grab-and-go situation, and the two firefighters got Grimm up and escorted her out through the front door.

Engines arrived minutes later and found Kenzie unconscious in her "safe spot." Williams said firefighters were able to revive the dog using an oxygen mask.

"You really don't think about it. You just do it because you know somebody's in there," said Shaull, who has been a firefighter for 20 years.

Shaull also volunteers at New Bridgeville Fire Co. and is a deputy at the Harford County Sheriff's Office in Maryland.

"It's just muscle memory. You don't think about it. You just do it," said Scott, who became a volunteer firefighter in 2011 and runs Scott's Equipment Repair LLC.

Scott and Shaull said they're glad Grimm and Kenzie are alive and well. 

"For those guys to drive to the scene and be there," Williams said. "The stars lined up for her that night." 

Officials believe the fire started from a defect in the chimney flue of the oil furnace in one of the back bedrooms.

Karl Grimm said the house was destroyed, and his daughter and her family are temporarily living at a sibling's house in Maryland.

Both firefighters received commendations Feb. 27 at the Citizens Volunteer Fire Co.  station, located at 171 S Market St, with about 20 people present, including Joan Grimm.