It is not every day that someone goes to work and returns home a hero, but for three members of Milwaukee Local 494, that’s just what happened when they helped save two men and a baby from a house fire.
|Milwaukee Local 494 Business Manager Dean Warsh spoke at an event to honor members Brian Pape, left, Jack Schoeppe and Chris Rassette who rescued three people, including an infant, from a house fire. Photo credit: Milwaukee Local 494
“These folks exercised some outstanding judgment,” said Milwaukee Deputy Fire Chief Aaron Lipski at a ceremony to honor Local 494 members Brian Pape, Chris Rassette and Jack Schoeppe. “It is a huge, huge credit to these three individuals, and to Roman Electric and to the IBEW at large, that these three folks stepped up and did what they did.”
The trio were at the office of signatory employer Roman Electric in March when they heard a man yelling for help at a nearby house. As smoke billowed out, they quickly ran over and Pape and Rassette helped the man and his one-month-old daughter out of a window. Schoeppe used his truck’s extension ladder to help another person escape from the second story.
“It was just a crazy time," Rassette told local news outlet WTMJ.
Lipski thanked the men not just for their quick thinking and bravery that day, but also for their electrical expertise.
“Your good electrical work actually prevents probably more fires than we do,” Lipski said. “You have absolutely no idea how serious I am when I say that. Thank you for what you do and thanks for being diligent and detail oriented.”
At the ceremony, held in June, attendees heard from Lipski, Local 494 Business Manager Dean Warsh, Alderman Michael Murphy and Roman Electric President Phil Rose, all there to honor the three members. Pape, Rassette and Schoeppe each received a plaque from the city with a proclamation recognizing their life-saving actions and a Local 494 challenge coin from Warsh.
The coins are given to members who have helped saved lives at work or devoted their free time to worthwhile causes. Including Pape, Rassette and Schoeppe, 13 have been awarded to Local 494 members, Warsh said.
“It means a lot to see anybody do something courageous like that,” Warsh said. “These days, many people would rather take out their phones and videotape something like this rather than jumping into action. This is the kind of courage that I hope everyone would demonstrate if faced with the same situation. We’re all very proud of them.”
The fire department arrived soon after Pape, Rassette and Schoeppe began helping the trapped occupants. After putting out the fire and getting everyone to safety, Lipski said he tried to find the members to thank them, but they were nowhere to be found. They had already gone back to work.
“Your modesty and your humility in all this is appreciated, but you need to understand that I’ve been doing this a long time and I’m looking at the three of you like you’re superheroes right now,” Lipski said. “What you did that day was absolutely fantastic, whether you believe it or not, that is the truth.”