HEROIC HONOR: Peoria firefighter to be honored for bravery in the face of danger

It's a big honor for a firefighter in Peoria, as Stephen Gunn is one of 12 people selected for the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor.

The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor. It's a medal that honors acts of heroism and bravery.

"I never would imagined that it would have gotten to this level," said Gunn. "It's still kind of surreal."

Gunn, who is an engineer with Peoria Fire, is a second generation firefighter. Gunn said he was just doing what he was trained to do.

"There were three other guys on that truck with me that night, and we all had a different role or responsibility in this particular call," said Gunn. "If those roles or responsibilities had gone to anyone else, they would have done the exact same thing. I just happened to be the guy that got off the truck first."

In April of 2016, Gunn raced into a burning building. The fire was so hot, it burned through his gear, melted his helmet, and burned his ears.

"All I can remember, with the situation at hand, was a lot of adrenaline and excitement," said Gunn. "We don't normally do that, just run into a burning house with no hose or protection."

Gunn did it to save a man who was trapped inside. With that bravery, Gunn will now travel to Washington to receive the Medal of Valor, an honor that has his family proud.

"I told my dad, and he started crying. He got pretty emotional," said Gunn. "My wife was very excited. I have a six-year-old daughter and a three-year-old daughter. They're both very happy. My mom was excited. They're just all very happy."

Gunn was only inside for less than a minute, and the outcome could have been very different, if he was inside for another 15 seconds. Gunn, however, said he was only at the right place, at the right time.

"When you go to work, you never know what's going to happen," said Gunn.