One day this past summer, Cesar Casiano, 11, was riding his bike with two friends in the Rappahnanock Landing neighborhood in Stafford.
The boys stopped to watch people feeding ducks in the pond. They heard people pointing behind them and asking, “Is that real?”
They turned to see smoke billowing up one of the posts holding up the wooden deck attached to the end unit of a row of town houses. The deck was on fire.
Cesar and his friends didn’t hesitate. They ran up to the house, grabbed a garden hose and turned it on. They took turns spraying the fire with water and banging on the front door of the house, trying to alert the family inside.
“I wasn’t scared,” Cesar said.
He had just returned that morning from Boy Scout camp—where he’d earned his Firem’n Chit, granting him the right to carry matches and start campfires.
To get it, he’d demonstrated his understanding of eight fire safety requirements, including how to identify and clear flammable material, how to safety attend a fire and how to use the cold-out test to ensure a fire is out.
By the time Stafford Fire and Rescue came tearing down the street—with the siren going “weeeoooeee,” Cesar demonstrated—the fire was out.
“If we weren’t there, they said the fire would have gone all the way up the house and maybe to all the other houses,” Cesar said.
He learned that two older people and two dogs lived in the home and that his actions saved their home from damage and them from possible injury.
For this, the Boy Scouts of America earlier this month awarded Cesar, who’s been a scout since he was seven, its national Medal of Merit.
He received the award at his regular troop meeting at Stafford County Christian Church on Dec. 18.
According to the Boy Scouts’ website, the Medal of Merit may be given to “a youth member or adult leader who has performed some outstanding act of service of a rare or exceptional character that reflects an uncommon degree of concern for the well-being of others.”
Cesar also received a medal from Stafford Fire and Rescue.
The fourth grade student at Rocky Run Elementary School lives with his mother, Maria, and five siblings—aged 17 to 7—in Olde Forge.
Maria Casiano has been a single mother since her ex-husband, who was abusive, was deported to Mexico. She has a house-cleaning business, M.C. Housecleaning.
“She is the business,” Cesar said.
Casiano said through a translator that she’s very proud of her son—and also that she wasn’t surprised.
“He likes to help a lot,” she said.
She said she’s always told her children they have a responsibility to help others.
“If there’s something you can do to help, you need to do it,” she said.