Broken Arrow meter reader saves family from fire


Source: City of Broken Arrow

For Skylar O'Brien, April 10 was a typical Monday reading water meters for the City of Broken Arrow Utilities Department. O'Brien has been with the city for four and a half years and was on his usual route when he saw white smoke rising from the top of a house near Vandalia Street.

"I noticed there was smoke coming from the garage and a window. Next, I called 911," he said. "I've worked in this area and knew a large family lived here, and my immediate concern was how many people were inside."

O'Brien went to the front door, and smoke was coming out. Just as he was about to open the door, two people came out, and he escorted them across the street and away from the fire.

"There was initial concern about another occupant in the house, and I was worried the young girl was in the house because we couldn't find her, but as it turned out, she was in the backyard Facetiming her brother," he said.

O'Brien and a neighbor ripped out one of the boards to open the gate and escorted the girl away from the fire. It was just a matter of minutes before the flames were billowing from the house. O'Brien, who just passed the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam, plans to become a firefighter.

"I was just driving by at the right place and at the right time," he said. "I was just glad I could make the call and ensure they were out of the house."

City Councilor Lisa Ford (Ward 2) was on a ride-along with the Broken Arrow Fire Department when the unit she was riding with was called to fight the fire. She's known O'Brien since he was in high school and did an internship with the Broken Arrow Police Department, where she worked for more than 20 years. Ford was surprised to see O'Brien and proud to learn he had been instrumental in saving the lives of this Broken Arrow family

"Just the courage that it took to make the call to 911 and to make sure the residents got out of the house was just awesome," Ford said. "He was just doing his job reading water meters but was aware of his surroundings."

When O'Brien made the 911 call, there was very little smoke.

"If he hadn't been aware of what was going on while doing his daily duties, I'm not sure how long it would have taken the Broken Arrow Fire Department to get the call," Ford said.

The fire was so hot it took two ladder trucks more than two hours to extinguish it. Ford believes O'Brien's actions were indicative of City of Broken Arrow employees' love for the citizens.

"Our employees have such big hearts for our citizens. We truly are one Broken Arrow," she said. "We're all here for the same thing, to make BA safe, and beautiful and to look out for our neighbors."

For his heroism, O’Brien was recognized by the City Council at the April 18 meeting. O'Brien says he's been serving the people of Broken Arrow for years as a meter reader, and now he's pursuing another way to serve the community as a firefighter.

Ford is confident he is on the right career track.

"I believe he will be an excellent firefighter for the city," she said. "It wasn't his job that day, his job was to read the meters, but he went so far above and beyond."

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