The Baltimore County Fire Department's Commendations Board has
posthumously awarded its highest honor, the Medal of Honor, to Mark Falkenhan.
Falkenhan, 43, died Wednesday fighting a four-alarm fire in Hillendale.
The Department's Medal of Honor—rarely awarded—is given to fire service members who, in the course of firefighting or rescue operations, intelligently perform acts of extraordinary heroism or bravery in the saving, or attempted saving, of the lives of others, the Baltimore County Fire Department announced in a press release today.
Guidelines for this award specify that the action "shall be above and beyond the call of duty, at the grave risk of personally being killed or seriously injured," and that the action is taken with knowledge of the risks involved, according to the statement.
The Commendations Board has also awarded Falkenhan the Purple Heart, "awarded to members who, in the course of firefighting, rescue or emergency operations, receive a grievous or life-threatening injury, through no fault of their own," according to the press release.
"Mark Falkenhan was an intelligent, committed firefighter who made the ultimate sacrifice. It is an understatement to say that he has earned these honors," county Fire Chief John J. Hohman said in the statement.
The department will formally present the awards at its upcoming annual promotional and commendations ceremony, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on March 22 at Goucher College's Kraushaar Auditorium.
The Fire Department Commendations Board is comprised of career, volunteer and retired fire service members who evaluate candidates for various awards based on specific criteria.
The board voted unanimously to honor Falkenhan with the Medal of Honor
and Purple Heart.