West Virginia State Fire Marshal Ken Tyree presents B-UHS senior Ian Strader with a Life Saving Award Thursday. (Photo by Monica Zalaznik)

State Fire Marshal commends high school senior for his bravery in structure fire rescue

BUCKHANNON – The West Virginia State Fire Marshal honored a local high school senior for rescuing his neighbor from a perilous and potentially life-threatening fire during Thursday’s Upshur County Commission meeting.

Buckhannon-Upshur High School student Ian Strader was presented with an award from the Office of the State Fire Marshal – specifically, State Fire Marshal Ken Tyree himself – and a certificate of recognition from the Upshur County Commission during its Feb. 29 meeting.

Upshur County Commission President Sam Nolte read a letter sent by Banks District Volunteer Fire Department Chief John Roby, asking for an official recognition of Strader’s heroism.

“Chief Roby contacted me the day it happened, Feb. 24, and I can tell you, it was definitely an emotional day, and he was still coughing shortly after the fire when he told me about what Ian had done,” Nolte said. “I told him we would be happy to recognize him for his bravery.”

The letter summarized the events that led to Strader hearing his neighbor’s smoke alarm and helping her evacuate her home with her dog before she suffered any serious injuries. It stated that a call had come into the E911 Upshur County Communication Center about a structure fire on Waterloo Road in French Creek. The caller, Kimberly Howard, informed telecommunicators that her kitchen was on fire, but she was unable to leave the residence due to a broken leg.

“Without this young man’s heroic act, the occupant of this residence would have been seriously injured or worse in this fire,” the letter read. “I am requesting that Ian be recognized by our County Commission and the WV State Fire Marshal’s Office for his selflessness and heroic act.”

Pictured, from left, are Upshur County Commission President Sam Nolte, Commissioner Kristie Tenney, B-UHS senior Ian Strader and Commissioner Doug Bush. (Photo by Monica Zalaznik)

Nolte said Strader was already recognizable for his athletic accomplishments, but now he would be seen as a local hero.

“Most of us in this room are from Upshur County, and we have followed you throughout your sports career where we see you in the paper all the time and up at the high school, so we know you’re a tremendous student-athlete, and now you will forever be a hero,” Nolte said. “On behalf of the Upshur County Commission, we would like to thank you and recognize you, and we have brought you a certificate.”

West Virginia State Fire Marshal Ken Tyree said he was presenting Strader with a ‘Life Saving Award.’

“That there were active and operational smoke alarms and having Ian’s attuned ear was a blessing,” Tyree said. “It was appropriate for me to drive up this morning, even during the legislative session, to be able to recognize this young man on behalf of the State Fire Marshal’s office and the State Fire Commission.”

Tyree said Strader’s actions exemplify the purpose of the Life Saving Award.

“In recognition of your honorable and valiant heroism to protect and preserve a life on February 24, 2024, in French Creek, West Virginia, this act, without a doubt, saved a life and [it is given] with sincere respect on this 29th of February 2024 from the West Virginia State Fire Commission and the Office of the State Fire Marshal,” Tyree said.

A full story from Strader’s perspective may be found in a previous My Buckhannon story. Strader’s mother, Roberta Hatcher, has started a GoFundMe page for Howard, whose home was declared a total loss. As of this writing, about $2,285 had been raised toward the goal of $20,000.

Strader, center, is recognized for his heroic act by county, city, responders and West Virginia Fire Marshal Ken Tyree, pictured third from right. (Photo by Monica Zalaznik)

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