Carnegie Medal Presentation to Fairuz Jane Schlecht


At some point the night Fairuz Schlecht rescued three children from a burning apartment in Newport Beach, California, someone put a beautiful blanket over her to keep warm. 

“It’s still on my bed,” Schlecht said. “That night was actually really beautiful, because it had a beautiful ending. The beauty and the love just kept going, it didn’t just end that night.”

Schlecht was speaking at the June 11 Newport Beach, California, council meeting, where Carnegie Hero Fairuz Schlecht was presented the Carnegie Medal by Mayor Will O’Neill.

Schlecht was awarded the Carnegie Medal for the rescue of three children from a burning apartment in Newport Beach. On Dec. 20, 2022, she, then 51, was exiting the burning apartment building when she learned the kids in a neighboring apartment were on the second floor shouting for help. She returned upstairs and, despite high-pitched alarms, swirling smoke, and heat, entered their apartment. She ran down a smoke-filled hallway and kicked in a bedroom door to gather the children, exiting the building with them.

“As you’re coming up here, if you look in the back of the room, these firefighters are here for you,” O’Neill told Schlecht during the presentation. 

Newport Beach Chief Jeff Boyles also spoke at the event.

“We’ve had the privilege of getting to know Fairuz after this incident,” he said. “She’s an amazing person, and I think we can all agree that our communities are a lot closer, safer, and resilient when people like Fairuz put the needs of others in front of themselves.”

Fairuz was emotional during the presentation, stopping several times to compose herself. 

She described the outpouring of support she has received, including a friend offering her a place for her and her children to stay. 

“She gave me the exhale that I needed. That has been what my life has been like since the fire. I could continue. Just one thing after another. There’s been so much intense support and beauty and love,” Schlecht said.

Pictured are Fairuz Schlecht, center in yellow blazer, with Boyles, left, and O’Neill, flanking her, as they hold up the Carnegie Medal and Newport Beach proclamation. The rest of the Newport Beach Council members and the firefighters who showed up to support Schlecht stand behind them.