Unconscious Man Removed from New York Apartment Fire

Firefighters in Syracuse, NY, had their hands full when they arrived at a fire that required the removal of 12 people, including an unconscious male and two persons who were threatening to jump.

The Syracuse Fire department was dispatched to a "reported kitchen fire with three people trapped." The alarm came in at 4:41 a.m. on Nov.10.

Engines 3, 8, 18, Trucks 1, 8, the rescue company and District Chief Car 3 were familiar with the three-story wood-frame structure. Their previous calls to the mixed occupancy gave them knowledge of the cut-up apartments above the bar and store.

While en route, 9-1-1 dispatchers gave information to the responding units that the occupants "exit was cut off by the fire and they were going to jump." Upon arrival, the members found an adult male and female hanging out a second floor window with heavy black smoke pushing around their torsos.

While crews from the engine companies advanced lines up the front stairway, Truck 1 performed vertical ventilation. The crew from Truck 8 threw a wall ladder to the second floor window on side 4. The window was so small that the officer had to direct the female to get back in so the male could exit first. Both the female and male victims came out onto the ladder head first as directed by Lt. Kevin O'Brien.

Immediately thereafter, the Truck 8 search team entered through the window and began to look for the reported third victim. Within moments, Firefighter Al Morgan located an unconscious male in a living room. He dragged him back to the window, and with the help of his partner Steve Napierski, lifted the lifeless male head first onto the ladder. Lt O'Brien then single-handedly muscled the dead weight down the ladder, handing him off to an awaiting ambulance crew.

Meanwhile, rescue teams were assisting the other occupants down the smoke filled hallway from both the second and third floors. While a total of 12 went to the hospital, there were at least an additional 10 occupants who were evaluated at the scene and refused treatment.

Because of the number of apartments, First Deputy Chief Fred Plumpton requested an additional company, and Engine 6 was dispatched. Reports from the hospital at 8:00 a.m. indicated that the adult male victim had been placed into the hyperbaric chamber and that his prognosis for full recovery was good. There were no reported injuries to any firefighters.