‘A gutsy, heroic act of selflessness’: FLAIM’s Jacob Nibali nominated for bravery award

Press & ResearchMay 16th, 2024

FLAIM would like to publicly congratulate our very own Jacob Nibali (Senior Systems Engineer) for being nominated for the Chief Leonard T. King, Sr. Medal of Valor Award.

The award recognizes an active Maryland fire, rescue and/or EMS provider who has been credited with saving or attempting to save a human life in an extreme emergency situation.

The act or acts of heroism must have required a risk of personal safety or life; and the individual have displayed personal bravery or self-sacrifice so extraordinary as to set the individual apart from his or her fellow emergency service providers.

On July 25th 2023, Jacob was driving off-duty and noticed a large fireball emerge near the highway. Upon pulling over he saw a man was engulfed in flames. He removed his shirt, provided first aid, waived down a passing ambulance and drove the ambulance to the hospital so both medics could work on the patient.

Despite not winning the Medal of Valor Award, retired Captain Karen Estepp, friend of FLAIM, said “this was a gutsy, heroic act of selflessness that Jacob displayed on this day.”

Jacob said: “It’s an honor to be nominated for such a prestigious award and to share that nomination with the incredible individuals that have held it before me”.

FLAIM’s Evan Wing said: “Selfless acts of valor are home to a unique breed. It’s an honor to call you a colleague, friend, and brother”.

Congratulations, and thank you, Jacob – from your FLAIM family.

FLAIM’s Jacob Nibali – with family – receiving his nomination for the Chief Leonard T. King, Sr. Medal of Valor Award

Watch a video of the nomination presentation


Read a summary of the incident

In Jacob’s words:

On July 25th 2023, I was off-duty and driving home on Interstate 495 when I noticed a large fireball emerge from a wooded area to the right of the highway.

I pulled my vehicle over to the side of the road to investigate and noticed a man fully engulfed in flames. I ran towards the individual and shouted instructions for him to drop to the ground and roll around. I quickly reached him, removed my shirt and used it to extinguish the remainder of the flames.

At this time, several other motorists had stopped and confirmed that they had called 911. I remained with the man and rendered aid until a Maryland State Trooper arrived shortly thereafter. The trooper confirmed that fire department personnel were on the way but likely still had a 5-8 minute ETA.

Very soon after, I noticed and flagged down a passing Prince George’s County paramedic ambulance that had been returning from the hospital following an unrelated incident. I assisted the paramedics on the unit with moving and stabilizing the patient.

In order to not delay patient transport to the hospital, and with other fire department units still likely a few minutes away, we made the call to have me drive the ambulance so that the medics could focus on patient care. We transported the man to the nearest burn center where they immediately began treating his life threatening injuries.