Mifflin Township Honors Area Employee's Heroic Actions in Fire at The Worthington

Mifflin Township Division of Fire representatives, staff, residents, family and friends gathered Wednesday evening at The Worthington to honor Marcus J. Fandrey (Jay), executive chef of the Gahanna retirement community, who became a hero to one resident on an early winter morning.
On Jan. 11, Fandrey was in the kitchen beginning preparations for the daily meals for residents when he heard the fire alarm sound shortly after 6 a.m. After discovering smoke in the atrium, he quickly found an apartment with smoke and water coming out from under the door. He used his master key to open the apartment and was met with a wall of black smoke that filled his lungs and covered his face. He couldn’t see anything in the darkness.

Overcome with smoke, he stepped out of the apartment, covered his face with his shirt and lowered himself to the floor and began to feel around inside the door. A wheel chair and a walker near the front door alerted him that the resident was most likely still inside. He crawled forward, feeling around on the floor until he touched the legs of the resident, who was lying motionless on the floor. He pulled Lois McCaw through the entryway and into the hallway. Fandrey then closed the apartment door to reduce the spread of smoke and fire.

“After I pulled her out, I held her head for a bit as I called 9-1-1. Just then, another resident came down the hall and I asked her to help so that I could make sure the front door was unlocked so that the firefighters could get in,” said Fandrey.

Wednesday evening Mifflin Township Fire Chief Kauser presented Fandrey with the Fire Chief’s Award of Merit for Outstanding Service to the Fire Division to recognize him for his selfless actions this past January. Also recognized for their quick response and actions to treat the victim were the firefighters from the first arriving firefighting and paramedic company, including Lieutenant Matt Crotty, Firefighters Nick Searle and Alex Daniels.

“I was able to spend time with Jay, who described the entire event in great detail,” said Mifflin Fire Chief Fred Kauser. “I asked how long it took from the time he heard the alarm, went to the atrium, determine which apartment the alarm was coming from, to finding Lois McCaw and pulling her to safety. He said he felt as if it took a very long time. In actuality, the total time from alarm activation to arrival of the first firefighting company was less than four minutes. It’s a stark reminder of how quickly a situation can become life threatening and how every second counts.”

Other community leaders on hand to recognize and thank Fandrey included the city of Gahanna’s Director of Public Safety Mark Thomas, Mifflin Township Trustee Richard Angelou and Mifflin Township Administrator Nancy White. Additionally, Lois McCaw’s family presented Fandrey with an engraved cutting board.

“What else do you present to a chef, but a cutting board,” said Lisa Marsh, daughter of Lois McCaw. “On the back we have engraved, ‘Not all heroes wear capes, some wear aprons.’ ”

“It’s a reminder that, no matter the day or hour, employees should always be prepared for an emergency and to act on their training” said Mifflin Fire Chief Fred Kauser. “It’s no small deed to do what he did and to save a life. Our community is a better place because of people like him.”

"I'm sure Jay knew seven years ago he would be making a difference in the lives of our residents, but I don't think he ever thought he'd be saving a life,” said Raenae St. Julian, general manager of The Worthington. “We are all taught what to do in an emergency, but you never know how you will react until you are tested. We put our residents first in all we do and this is an example of Chef Jay putting our resident’s safety being above his own. I am very proud to work with such a selfless and caring individual, and to have Chef Jay as a member of The Worthington team.”