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Niagara man First Responder of the Year finalist

Dave Dunlap of Niagara recently was honored as a 2019 First Responder of the Year finalist. From left are state Rep. Jeff Mursau, Niagara City Council members Dan Decker and Lynn Burke, Wastewater Treatment Plant employee and Fire Chief Shawn Brown, Dunlap, Niagara City Council President Larry Kuchinski, who died recently, and Mayor George Bousley.

NIAGARA, Wis. — Dave Dunlap of Niagara recently was honored as a 2019 First Responder of the Year finalist.

Wisconsin state Rep. Jeff Mursau presented Dunlap with a “Citation by the State of Wisconsin,” as well as a state flag.

“City of Niagara Mayor George Bousley and I are honored to nominate David (Dave) Dunlap as First Responder of the Year,” Mursau said.

Dunlap is a 27-year veteran of the city’s volunteer fire department and recently was appointed as assistant chief. He also is the city’s treatment plant operator.

On May 29, Dunlap and his work partner, Shawn Brown, who also serves the city as fire chief, were returning from a treatment plant operator class in Green Bay, Wis.

As they were driving north on U.S. 141, they noticed a vehicle upside down in a retention pond at the County Highway A exit in Lena. A person was entering the water on foot.

Dunlap said to Brown, “You know what we need to do.”

They pulled their truck over and ran to the pond. The person standing in the pond told them he saw the car go into the water and that nobody had emerged from the vehicle.

Without hesitation, Dunlap removed his shirt and shoes and plunged into the chilly, murky water. He reached the car but was unable to pull the driver out. The person who had waded into the water was unsteady, so Brown helped him out of the pond and tended him on shore.

Other travelers stopped to assist, and together they were able to roll the vehicle upright and cut the seatbelt to remove the driver. The driver was brought to shore and Brown pulled the driver onto the grass.

At this point, the police and rescue squad arrived, so Dunlap and Brown returned to their vehicle. Sadly, a news report after the incident stated the driver had died after being taken to a hospital.

Neither Dunlap or Brown asked for or received recognition. A mention of the incident on social media simply stated that “three selfless people assisted by jumping in the water.”

“The incident was brought to our attention in a casual manner, ‘just another day in the life a firefighter.'”

“Although this event did not have a happy ending, we are nonetheless proud of both Dave and Shawn. They are a fine representation of our city with their actions both on and off duty,” Mursau said. 

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