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On Jan. 25, 2012, Kirk Rohle entered a burning building at Hampden-Sydney College to rescue a longtime friend and fellow Hanover High School football standout. Last Friday, he received an award recognizing his heroism.
In a brief ceremony at the Virginia Department of Fire Programs in Glen Allen, Mark Buff, marketing and communications manager, presented Rohle with the “Governor’s Civilian Lifesaving Award,” bestowed annually to a civilian with no fire service affiliation who “exemplifies a dedication to helping protect the citizens of Virginia against the devastating effects of fire.”
The Governor’s Fire Service Awards were created in 2002 under then-Gov. Mark Warner and recognize service in eight different categories.
Rohle was originally recognized last month during a full service awards ceremony in Virginia Beach, but was unable to attend.
During the brief ceremony March 22, Buff recognized Rohle for his heroism and briefly recounted the events of the day in question.
“I think for any of us in this room, it’s hard to imagine what you did that day. [It was] incredibly brave,” Buff said.
After awaking during the blaze that started in the middle of the night, Rohle first escaped his burning residence hall at Hampden-Sydney College before re-entering the building with several others to search for his friend, Ben Rogers, who was unaccounted for. According to Herald-Progress reports following the incident, everyone emerged from the building relatively unscathed except for Rohle, who exited the burning building through a window after sustaining severe burns to his fingers and toes. Rohle was critically burned and underwent a long recovery at VCU Medical Center’s burn unit.
He has since completed his studies at Hampden-Sydney and today works for Richmond-based Loveland Distributing Co. Inc. On March 22, he was thankful for the award and for the daily heroism of firefighters.
“I appreciate what you all do,” Rohle told Buff. “It’s a terrible situation for anyone who’s unfamiliar with fire and I learned the consequences of it.
“What you all do, training all of the firefighters out there – they’re some of the bravest men I’ve ever met and I have such a great respect for you all. Thank you all for what you do,” Rohle added.