Grand Prize Winner: Chicago Firefighter Joseph Martinelli

Martinelli has been selected by Firehouse Magazine as the grand prize recipient for the 2009 Heroism & Community Service Awards for rescuing a man from a March 1, 2009 apartment fire.


"I was gassed. At this time it was hot. I burnt my ears through my hood. It was banking down and rolling in the ceiling above us.

"What saved me was that everyone on the scene was working together. I found out later that they had water trouble with a dead hydrant at a front, but the second engine led out to the rear and they made their way through."

Soon he heard water "bouncing around" further back in the apartment and decided to open the door and try to make an escape. He turned the victim back around and started dragging him out.

They crawled to the doorway where Capt. Pat Maloney assisted them. He took over the lead position while Martinelli took the victim's feet and they brought him out the rest of the way and the man was moved to an ambulance.

"I don't think what I did was going above and beyond the call, I was just doing my job," he said. "There are guys out there whose acts that never go noticed except by their own guys. It's a humbling experience, I'm at a loss for words."