Black Sunday Firefighter Returns to Duty

NEW YORK-- A Bronx firefighter who survived a 50-foot plunge from a burning building on Black Sunday returned to full-time duty yesterday and, an hour later, went out on his first run.

Brendan Cawley, 33, got a hero's welcome when he walked into Ladder 27 in the Tremont section at 4 p.m.

An hour later, he got sent out on his first run - a gas leak.

Someone had left their gas oven on. The firefighters turned it off.

"It wasn't very exciting - not like my last run," Cawley said.

That "last run" occurred on Jan. 23, 2005, when Cawley had been on the job for only four weeks.

He and five fellow firefighters were trapped on the fourth floor of a Bronx building when flames roared up from the floor below and their hoses went dry.

Another firefighter, Eugene Stolowski, saved Cawley's life by throwing him out a window of the blazing building before jumping out himself.

Both men lived - as did two other firefighters who also jumped, Joe DiBernardo and Jeffrey Cool. But John Bellew and Curtis Meyran didn't make it.

Cawley, whose firefighter brother, Michael, perished on 9/11, suffered lung damage, a concussion and broken ribs.

He had two operations and two years of physical therapy. "Every time it got tough, I thought of John and Curtis," the two firefighters who died, he said.

Republished with permission of The New York Post.

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