Ferry native receives Firefighter of the Year Award

Helped save fire victim’s life

Photo Provided COLUMBUS FIREFIGHTER Lt. Terry Wildman, center, poses with the Firefighter of the Year Award given to him and his colleagues, James Williamson, left, and Colten Foil, for saving a fire victim’s life in January. Wildman is a native of Martins Ferry.

MARTINS FERRY — A Martins Ferry native who works as a professional firefighter in Columbus, Ohio, recently received an award for rescuing a man from a burning home.

On Jan. 30, Lt. Terry Wildman, of the Columbus Division of Fire, responded to a report of a house fire with a possible victim inside. He and two of his fellow firemen were assigned the task of searching the inside of the structure for any people, while others were trying to extinguish the blaze.

Wildman, 48, was able to find a man still alive inside the home and bring him to safety outside. He was helped by two newcomers to the department, Firefighter James Williamson, 32, and Firefighter Colten Foil, 25.

For their heroism, Wildman, along with Williamson and Foil, received the American Legion Post 532 Firefighter of the Year Award.

Wildman remembers that night being an extra cold one, and he had hoped it also was going to be a quiet one. Right before the call, Wildman had just met newcomers Williamson and Foil.

“I had just shook their hands,” he said.

Wildman said during the course of his 24-year career he has fought many fires, but it is not typical to pull people out of a burning building and have them survive.

“He lived. He made it. … Volunteer or paid, that’s every firefighter’s dream to do that,” Wildman said of saving a life. “Any firefighter will tell you, it’s about being in the right spot at the right time. … You just react.

“Another minute or two and he would not have made it. He was out of the hospital in two days.”

This is not the first award Wildman has received for saving a person’s life. About 10 years ago he received the Distinguished Service Award from the department for saving someone who was trying to jump off a bridge.

“I pulled a guy off the Broad Street Bridge who was trying to commit suicide,” Wildman said, noting he was working as a firefighter/paramedic at that time. “The police officer gave me the go-ahead and I snuck up behind him, picked him up and pulled him over the railing. I didn’t think about it, I just reacted.”

Wildman said it was nice to be recognized by the American Legion because firefighters and police officers as a whole do not receive a lot of recognition for the tough jobs they do.

He said in a bigger city such as Columbus one doesn’t expect it either.

Wildman’s firefighting roots began in Martins Ferry where he volunteered with his father, Terry Wildman of Martins Ferry, at the Martins Ferry VFD’s Ladder Company. After graduating from Martins Ferry High School in 1989, he served as a volunteer firefighter in Martins Ferry from 1990-95.

“I fell in love with the job and with helping people,” he said.

He went on to receive associate degrees in Fire Science and EMS Technology. The first department he tested to become a firefighter with was Columbus. He passed the test and has been there ever since.

Wildman said while he is eligible to retire from firefighting after 25 years, he plans to stay on for another eight. He would like to move back to Ohio Valley when he does retire.

“I’m proud to represent Martins Ferry and the Ohio Valley. It’s always been home to me. I’m proud to be from the Ohio Valley,” he said.

Wildman lives in Columbus with his three daughters, Kennedy, Parker and Avery.


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