An off-duty police officer who raced into a burning home to save an elderly man's life was driving home with his wife 11 days after the birth of their second child when he spotted smoke.
Constable Clint Gordon, who was on paternity leave at the time, was recognised for his actions with a commendation from the ACT Fire and Rescue Chief Officer.
He remembered some childhood advice as he opened the door to the Trussell Place home in Kambah.
“I opened the screen door and saw a zimmerframe and a walking stick - [I] sort of realised he was an elderly male - smoke [meant there] was probably about 2.5-3 foot [75-90cm] of cleanish air and I thought, my uncle’s a fire officer up in Queensland, and as a young fella he said ‘get down low and go’,” Mr Gordon said.
“So I just got down on my hands and knees and crawled through.”
The heroic constable – with his wife offering support at the front door – found the 96-year-old man in a rear bedroom and used a jacket as a shield as he led the man outside to neighbours.
On Monday, ACT Fire and Rescue chief officer Paul Swain awarded Constable Gordon with a commendation and praised the 29-year-old’s bravery.
“It is something that is special and unexpected I suppose of anyone in society,” Mr Swain said.
He said firefighters on duty would have gone in with breathing apparatus on.
Constable Gordon followed his life-saving actions by using a rake to break a window and spraying water from a garden hose onto the fire, extinghuishing it before fire officers arrived.
The elderly man was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene.
The fire was caused by chips cooking on a stovetop.
The humble hero – who returns to work this weekend – said he was overwhelmed by the award but would do the same again.
“[I'm] pretty humbled, I didn’t expect it, I’d expect anyone to do what I did ... I’d do it again, if I came over the same thing I’d go in again”.