Firehouse Heroism and Community Service Awards: Top Winners

We are pleased to announce the newest honorees in our Firehouse ® Magazine Heroism & Community Service Awards program and take pride in highlighting the bravery of these outstanding individuals. We recognize the judges: Chief Mark McLees (ret.) of the...


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6. Firefighter Christopher T. O’Brien

FDNY, Ladder 56

At 3:16 A.M. on Aug. 1, 2012, Ladder 56 responded to a reported fire with people trapped. Heavy fire was venting from a top-floor window. A woman was screaming that her children were trapped in the apartment.

Firefighter Christopher T. O’Brien donned his facepiece and crawled 50 feet down the smoke-filled hallway. He was forced to the floor because of the high heat condition caused by fire rolling out the first room on the right. O’Brien crawled under the flames and down the hallway, hearing a moan. Following the sound, he found an unconscious victim. He began dragging the severely burned 150-pound victim 20 feet to the door. The victim’s clothes had been burned off. With tremendous physical effort, O’Brien was able to get past the fire and reach the apartment door, where the victim was given to other members for treatment.

 

7. Firefighter Michael Piccolo

Chicago, IL, FD, Tower Ladder 21

On June 26, 2012 at 11:10 P.M., Engine 112 and Tower Ladder 21 were dispatched to a still alarm. While enroute, the address was changed. Upon arrival, there were three 2½-story frame structures well-involved. The middle structure was fully involved and the building to the right had fire on the first and second floor.

Tower Ladder 21 was alerted by neighbors of a missing man in the building to the left of the main fire building. Fire had communicated to the first and second floors of that dwelling. The volume of fire required the use of deck guns from Engines 112 and 78. Firefighter Michael Piccolo searched the second floor for the reported missing man.

Braving heavy smoke and fire, Piccolo reached a rear bedroom and found the unconscious male in his bed. Piccolo carried the victim to safety through the extreme heat and thick smoke conditions to the outside and began patient assessment. This rescue was described by Deputy Fire Commissioner John McNicholas: “Witnessing many rescues in my 34-year career, the efforts of Firefighter Piccolo rank among the best I’ve seen.”

 

8. Lieutenant John Silva

Chicago, IL, FD, Truck 42

On June 26, 2012, at 5:20 A.M., units from Battalion 23 responded to a still alarm. While enroute, the alarm was upgraded to a still and box alarm with reports of people jumping. Upon arrival, heavy fire was visible on the third and fourth floors of a four- story, ordinary-construction courtyard building.

Two civilians were screaming to be rescued from a one-story roof. Two occupants had climbed out a fourth-floor bathroom window and were now clutching the upper cross brace of a utility pole over 30 feet in the air. Heavy smoke was now emitting from the window they had exited. The fire had escalated to a third alarm and additional ambulances were called.

Truck 42 arrived and laddered both sides of the building to rescue civilians. Lieutenant John Silva cautioned his company about high-power electric lines, and then he climbed to the top of a utility pole through a maze of live electrical, telephone and cable lines feeding the area. As fire erupted from the window, Silva calmed the civilians and got them orientated onto the ladder through now-zero visibility. One by one, he guided them down through the maze of wires and cables to safety. Once the rescues were completed, Silva and his company continued with interior searches and fire containment.

 

9. Firefighter Robert J. Roschbach

FDNY Ladder 83

On Feb. 8, 2012, at 12:50 P.M., Ladder 83 arrived as the first-due truck at a house fire. Heavy, black smoke and fire were visible venting from the second floor of a dwelling. There was a heavy fire condition on the first floor. Fire was rolling across the ceiling toward the rear of the apartment. Firefighter Robert J. Roschbach advanced past the main body of fire toward the rear in high heat and zero visibility. Roschbach crawled 20 feet where he encountered the door to a bedroom. He entered the room, found the bed and swept his arm across the top of it. He located a non-breathing victim. He dragged the victim onto the floor and back the 20 feet down the hallway while fire burned overhead. He exited the apartment and past the engine still waiting for water. The victim was given CPR and was transported to a hospital with burns.