9-year-old recognized as hero for helping family escape Lakeland house fire

A 9-year-old girl whose quick thinking likely saved her family during a fire was honored as a hero.

According to Lakeland Fire Rescue, a fire started in the kitchen while Zniayah Armstrong, her siblings and 70-year-old grandmother were inside. Armstrong was able to get her siblings out and run to a neighbor to help her grandmother who fell. 

Her actions impressed the Lakeland Fire Department and the Kids Wish Network who wanted to honor her as their hero of the month.

Armstrong told FOX 13 that what she learned at school helped with her response.

"At school we do a lot of fire drills, a lot of them. So I knew what to do," Armstrong said.

They were actions that impressed the firefighters who are in these situations daily.

"It’s pretty amazing for a 9-year-old to be able to stay calm and to remember what she heard in school and to be able to put that into action." Lakeland Fire Chief Doug Riley said.

Image 1 of 2


It was something that didn’t surprise her family. Her aunt Ma'Lisa Butler said she practices those drills at home with her siblings.

"Because Zniayah is the type of child that is very smart. She's quick thinking," Butler said. "She's always coming home like, look, you know, this is what we learned today at school." 

The Kids Wish Network also honored Armstrong with a care package and said in a statement:

"We’re honored to acknowledge Zniayah for saving her family. Her courage, selflessness and determination honor the integrity of Kids Wish Network’s Hero program. She is an inspiration to others, a true HERO. "