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Norfolk Fire Captain honored with Valor Award for saving family from drowning in Chesapeake Bay

Thousands of men and women in uniform put their lives on the line every day when they go to work here in Hampton Roads.  Friday we continue a series dedicated to the first responders who went above and beyond the call of duty this year.

The Valor Awards are presented by the Hampton Roads Chamber.  News 3 is honored to partner again this year and showcase incredible feats of bravery.

Click here for complete coverage of the 2018 Valor Awards

The Chamber’s Priscilla Monti sat down with Captain William Sigafoos to talk  about the amazing bravery he showed when he dove into the chilly Chesapeake Bay to save a family who was near drowning.

Captain William Sigafoos said they had just gotten through eating dinner after a call when a front came through. They ended up responding to a call for people on the beach in distress.

“Two had been pulled in just about the time we got in there that didn’t get all the way out. The other three were going out fast; they got caught in a rip current. One of them was getting ready to go under we knew we needed to move quick. We didn’t have time to put on any gear. So it was a matter of putting on a life jacket and going," Captain Sigafoos said.

Timing was everything that day and Captain Sigafoos knew he only had 20 minutes in the water before he would start feeling the effects of hypothermia. The water was only about 64° and on top of all of that this was Captain Sigafoos' 61st birthday.

“You can’t look for a better way of celebrating a birthday then saving a life," Captain Sigafoos said.

When crews got there a girl was just getting ready to go under the water, Captain Sigafoos said 'let me get her in and you stay with them and get the huddle to keep each other warm and it worked for us.'

Captain Sigafoos credits the culmination of everybody working together that day with what saved the family.

“It didn’t surprise me at all that day that he didn’t hesitate to go into the water just with an attitude of I’m going to go until he can’t go anymore," Chief Jeffrey Wise said about Captain Sigafoos.

“Someone’s in distress that needs help, we are there to help them, that’s what our jobs about," Captain William Sigafoos said.

News 3 will bring you other stories of incredibly brave men and women working as first responders in Hampton Roads in the coming weeks.

The Hampton Roads Chamber Valor Awards are June 7, 2018 at the Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Waterfront Hotel.  Click here for more information.