San Diego Fire-Rescue Department

San Diego Firefighters, Lifeguards, Paramedics Reluctantly Accept Awards

The San Diego Fire-Rescue Foundation Service Awards allow emergency responders to honor one another

NBC Universal, Inc.

They’re all heroes, but good luck calling them that.

San Diego firefighters, paramedics, and lifeguards were honored Friday at the annual San Diego Fire-Rescue Foundation Service Awards.

“First-responders hate the term heroes, and if you ask them if they’re heroes, they will tell you they’re just doing their job,” said the foundation's executive director, Wendy Robinson.

“No, no, not at all,” said San Diego Lifeguard Ben Lewis, waving off the question. “It’s just a crew of guys doing our jobs, honestly.”

Every now and then, however, members of those crews are recognized by their peers for going above and beyond.

“This is the only event where the Fire-Rescue personnel recognize themselves,” explained Robinson. “They’re nominated, they’re voted on by their peers.”

Lewis was recognized for his heroism alongside U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Cale Foy for an incident involving a boat that capsized last May right off the coast of Point Loma. Lewis was the first lifeguard to arrive in a boat. Foy just happened to be walking onshore with his family when he saw the boat and ran into the waves.

“It was a crazy experience,” Foy said. “People were jumping out left and right, and that’s my job in the Navy, so, went and did what I could.”

Foy, who is a Navy rescue swimmer. has two rescues under his belt in the Navy. The capsized boat was the first time his three children saw him in action.

“It was a good thing for them to see and actually see Dad doing his job,” Foy said with a smile.

Foy, Lewis and other lifeguards rescued more than 20 people from the boat.

“That was the most significant rescue that I’ve been a part of,” said a smiling Lewis, who still doesn’t want to be called a hero.

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