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Using anything that could float, Woods organized a water-removal rescue of all these people 1,000 feet away. The journey was filled with floating obstacles, surging ocean water, driving rain, downed trees, utility poles, assorted debris and, in some cases, floating cars and boats. All the people were exposed to the fires from multiple buildings. Keeping the group together while covering the distance of six blocks under these conditions took about one hour; normally, it would take five minutes. He deposited the group at his brother’s house at Beach 135 Street.
Returning with his son, he found another neighbor. Sixteen homes on Beach 130 Street were now on fire, including Woods’ home. They spotted a retired FDNY neighbor on a porch roof with three couples trying to assist. They returned to Beach 135 Street with the entire family. Enroute they spotted a couple in their 80s on a porch roof. Woods brought them three more blocks to safety. Twenty-five individuals were rescued from the surging water and structural fire that eventually involved 32 buildings.
3. Firefighter James Doyle
Chicago, IL, FD, Engine 59
On Feb. 18, 2012, at 6:56 A.M., Truck 47 responded as the second truck to a still alarm. While enroute, the alarm was upgraded to a still and box alarm reporting people trapped on the third floor. Firefighter James Doyle was ordered to search the third floor. He climbed the aerial ladder of Truck 22. Despite a heavy volume of heated smoke Doyle was able to gain entry through a third-floor window. Once inside, while conducting a primary search, Doyle located an unresponsive 35-year-old male. Doyle had to raise the victim up and through the window of the third floor onto the aerial ladder. Seconds after Doyle began his descent on the ladder, carrying the victim, the apartment from which they had exited became heavily involved with fire. Doyle continued down the ladder and transferred the man’s care to Ambulance 31.
4. Past Chief Albert J. Jacoby
Florence Township, NJ, Fire District #1
On April 8, 2012 at 2:06 A.M., the Florence Township fire and police departments were dispatched for a report of two occupants trapped in a structure fire. Five occupants had been inside the dwelling at the time of the fire. Upon his arrival, Chief Keith Scully confirmed a working fire. One occupant fell or jumped from a second-floor window when fire vented from the window underneath. A woman was on a roof overhang when fire vented underneath her. She jumped to the ground. Upon arrival of Tower 4015, Past Chief Albert J. Jacoby was assigned to search the second floor. A handline was stretched upstairs. Jacoby and Firefighter Chris Perlingiero were the only members to make it upstairs. At the top of the stairs they faced limited visibility and high heat. Inspection holes were made in the ceiling. Fire was visible in front of and behind their position. Jacoby left the line to make a rapid search while Perlingiero protected the stairway. Jacoby located and removed an unconscious child. Both firefighters left with the child and initiated care with EMS. During the search, Jacoby’s turnout coat, helmet, bunker pants, SCBA, hood and radio sustained heat damage. The firefighters risked a lot to save the life of a child.
5. Lieutenant Marc C. Hickson
Lawrence, IN, FD
On Nov. 12, 2012 at 11:10 P.M., an explosion rocked the Richmond Hills subdivision of Indianapolis. Lieutenant Marc C. Hickson was awakened by a loud bang and a large swish of air. His garage door was off the hinges. Outside, he saw absolute destruction. Numerous homes were on fire and several had major damage. It appeared there had been some type of explosion affecting the neighborhood.
Hickson and a neighbor entered a house that was heavily damaged and on fire. They found a man covered by debris. As they removed the man, Hickson heard a voice. It was a woman who was buried under the rubble with only her head and one of her hands showing. There was a large hole above where the woman was trapped and fire was advancing on their location. The woman said she had been sitting in a recliner on the second floor when the explosion ripped a hole in the floor and now she was in the kitchen on the first floor. Drywall, wood, roofing material and debris were removed.
An officer from Indianapolis Engine 63 observed Hickson, who said he needed a handline for protection. After several grueling minutes, they were finally able to remove the woman. She stated her two children were unaccounted for. Hickson assisted another firefighter advance a hoseline. Due to no gear and increasing heat, Hickson made his way outside. The children had made it out prior to Hickson’s arrival. A total of 80 homes were damaged, with 33 needing to be demolished. Two people were killed. Three people were charged with blowing up a house to collect the insurance money.