Inside CDCR Video

Inside CDCR Video: Sergeant jumps into action when flames erupt

Firefighter approaches blazing building.
Video capture of fully-engulfed structure taken by San Bernardino Unit 2 firefighters.

Video by Jeff Baur
Office of Public and Employee Communications

CDCR employees may view the video by clicking the “play” icon.

Or watch the video on YouTube (link opens new tab, some websites are not accessible by CDCR computers).

Sgt. Bill Annas says his actions in saving lives during a house fire were all in a day’s work, but CDCR knows he is a true hero well deserving of the Department’s top honor for bravery.

Annas is a 2019 recipient of the CDCR Medal of Valor, awarded to employees, who distinguish themselves by conspicuous bravery or heroism above and beyond the normal demands of correctional service.

Throughout September, we’ll be sharing videos highlighting the brave men and women of CDCR. We salute them, along with Sgt. Annas, for their exceptional service.

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Have you been enjoying the Inside CDCR videos? This project highlights the staff, volunteers, community partners, programs, and incarcerated men and women that make the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation exceptional. If you have a story we should cover, please email Kristina.Khokhobashvili@cdcr.ca.gov (link opens new email).

Transcript

(music playing)

Sgt. Bill Annas

It was a routine day.

I was headed to Medical Center Convalescent Hospital. I was driving south on Waterman.

While heading down Waterman, I could see a considerable amount of smoke and as I got closer I pulled up in front of this residence here and the garage was engulfed.

Fire Dispatch Radio

A fully involved, detached garage…

Annas

I didn’t see any fire department personnel yet or hear any sirens.

(Natural sound of water being sprayed on the fire)

Annas

It was hot. It was fully engulfed and so I said “Is there anyone left in this home?” Cuz the garage, the proximity of the garage was right next to the house and they said yes. And I said “Well, let’s get ‘em out.”

When I walked into the home, I walked into the room that was closest to the fire. That’s the room I went to first.

Fire Dispatch Radio

We have an immediate structure threat.

Annas

You can feel the heat and you could hear it.

I was surprised when I walked in and saw these elderly ladies there and I realized that it was some sort of a home for the elderly or assisted living.

Right away I saw that one of the ladies, she had a oxygen machine, generating machine.

It’s like a little portable machine and so I asked “Ladies, can you walk?” and the one lady said “Get me my walker. I’m ready to go.”

And I helped her up and I was guiding her out and one of the gentlemen that worked there in this assisted living, came in and he took her.

I went back in for the second lady and I grabbed her portable oxygen machine. She said she could walk but she couldn’t carry the machine. It was very heavy.

So I grabbed the machine and I helped her and guided her out.

So I went to the next room. There was a third elderly lady. I grabbed her, helped her up. We walked out.

Honestly, at that point, when I knew the building was clear, they were sitting down.

When the fire truck pulled up, I walked straight to the fireman and I told them the house was clear. That these…these three ladies might need some medical attention.

I went to my vehicle and got in my vehicle and left. Once I knew the fire department was on the scene and they were good, I left.

Fire Dispatch Radio

Paramedic Engine 224’s on scene…

Annas

I think I might’ve said “Ladies, have a good day”, “Hang in there, things will get better”…something to that effect.

Fire Dispatch Radio

If we can get a second line brought back here…

Annas

The reason I acted the way I did, a lot of it is training. I mean, that’s what we’re trained to do, we respond and we’re trained for a lot of those…

I’m not a fireman but in Corrections, we respond to all…every emergency.

Like I said, when I was driving by, there was nobody. There were a few cars pulling over taking videos but there was nobody on the scene yet.

I go “Well, somebody’s gotta do it” and I did it.

It was all in a day’s work. I didn’t put any emphasis on it. I didn’t really tell anyone. I just went OK.

My warden, Warden Tampkins, I was once again touring the hospitals and I was driving and my state phone rang and it was Warden Tampkins and she said “I have you on speakerphone and I just want to tell you that you’re gonna get the Medal of Valor for your actions at the fire” and I was overwhelmed.

A little bit… You’re a little bit embarrassed. Like I said, I didn’t…it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

I didn’t think it was that big of a deal but Warden Tampkins did and I just thanked her.

You know, I could hear everyone cheering in the background and it was a huge compliment. I can’t say enough about it.

(music playing)

I’ll be going to Sacramento to accept the award and I’ll be honored and it’ll be a little overwhelming.

It’s a big honor and  I’ll kind of accept it on behalf of everyone in my department because there is many, many officers that have done the same thing or more that didn’t get a medal and I did. And so, that’s kind of how, how I’ll accept it.

(low, indistinguishable fire radio chatter)

Annas

I still don’t think it was anything out of the ordinary. I still think anybody in my shoes would’ve done the same thing.

I just really believe that…anybody in, especially in a uniform.

(music playing and fades out)