But we don’t have to look at just the most dramatic events of the day to find the heroes among us.
Closer to home, there are many instances of heroism that go unnoticed.
New Years Day 2011: Two San Jose police officers, Kris Kubasta and Jenni Byrd, are conducting a routine, early morning patrol downtown. Their shift is over, but they have volunteered to work additional hours because it’s a busy night and the department needs extra officers to respond to calls.
It's 3:00AM and Kris and Jenni are just finishing the investigation of a disturbance on San Carlos Street when Jenni notices something strange through the curtain-closed window of a house a block away. There’s an odd flickering light that she believes could be a fire. Officer Kubasta drives the patrol car up to the house so that they can both get a better look. At this point, it becomes clear that there’s a quickly growing fire climbing up a living room wall. Kris immediately calls the fire in to dispatch.
Through a window, Jenni notices an older woman just feet from the blaze sleeping in a chair—a celebratory champagne glass still in her hand. Both officers begin banging on the windows and door to see if they can wake her. The fire is now spreading to the ceiling and the house is rapidly filling with thick black smoke. Hearing the banging, the woman wakes and opens the door, still unaware of the growing blaze. Jenni informs the woman that her house is on fire. The woman runs back inside. Kris and Jenni chase after her and guide the now hysterical woman back to safety. Noticing that the fire is continuing to grow, Kris runs to the patrol car, grabs a fire extinguisher, runs back into the house and puts out the flames. At this point, he notices the fire’s source; a small artificial Christmas tree that has been left plugged into an electrical outlet.
The officers next check upstairs to see if anyone else is in the house and find another sleeping woman, her bedroom thick with smoke. They rouse and evacuate the second woman to safety while checking the remainder of the house to ensure no one else is in danger. The first fire engine now arrives on scene.
Later, a fire captain found that all the smoke detectors in the house were nonfunctional. The captain commented that if Officers Kubasta and Byrd had not shown up when they did the two victims could have perished and the house would have soon been completely engulfed in flames.
Instances of heroism happen in San Jose every day. They don’t always make headlines, but such quiet heroic acts remind us of the power we all have as individuals to make a positive difference in each other’s lives. They also remind us of how lucky we are to have dedicated officers like Kris Kubasta and Jenni Byrd protecting us from harm. Kris and Jenni are heroes and Protect San Jose is proud to share their story.