By the time firefighters arrived, Calif. Scout had already extinguished apartment fire

Matthew Qualls awoke with a start. Someone was screaming in his neighbor’s backyard.

Matthew looked out his window and saw smoke.

That’s when adrenaline — and Matthew’s Scout training — kicked in.

On Aug. 15, a fire broke out in Matthew’s apartment building. The 17-year-old Life Scout in Troop 36 of the Orange County Council says Scouting gave him the bravery and wisdom to react. He saved at least seven families’ homes.

“I knew where everything I needed in an emergency was, because I am in the Scouting program,” he told Melissa Dundovich of the Orange County Council.

A Scout is brave

The screaming was coming from the direction of Matthew’s neighbor Dale.

After seeing the smoke, Matthew grabbed a hammer and broke into the fire extinguisher case in the hallway of the apartment building. He ran next door.

Another neighbor was there, but she told Matthew she didn’t know how to use a fire extinguisher. Matthew told her to call 911.

Matthew began using the fire extinguisher the way he had learned: pull the pin in the handle, aim the nozzle at the fire’s base, squeeze the lever and sweep from side to side.

When the extinguisher ran out, Matthew went to grab another one. He kept at it until the fire department arrived on scene to find most of their work done for them.

When Matthew isn’t learning to save lives, he’s spending time outside. To date he has been on more than 150 campouts.

Great job, Matthew!

Speaking of fire extinguishers …

Nearly 38 million fire extinguishers manufactured by Kidde and sold between 1973 and 2017 are part of a nationwide recall. If yours is included, Kidde will send you a free replacement.

Check to see whether your family or Scout unit owns one of these recalled extinguishers.